DOHA - The influential Qatar-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi on Sunday called on Egyptians to boycott presidential elections and shun front-runner Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, saying the former army chief had "disobeyed God".
The Egyptian-born cleric, who has close links to the Muslim Brotherhood and whose religious shows on Al Jazeera television were watched by millions, has been critical of Egypt's military-backed government, accusing Sisi of betrayal for ousting Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year.
Qaradawi's outspoken support for the Brotherhood has recently contributed to an unprecedented diplomatic rift between Qatar and its Gulf Arab allies who consider the Islamist group a security threat and supported Morsi's overthrow.
"People of Egypt in the capital and the provinces, cities and villages, sit in your houses and do not burden yourselves with a great sin...," Qaradawi said in an emailed statement.
"It is not permissible for you to vote for he who has disobeyed God," he added.