Saudi Arabia’s top clerics speak out against Islamist militancy

September 17, 2014
(An aerial view of the Grand Mosque on the second day of Eid al-Adha in the holy city of Mecca October 16, 2013. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the Haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

(An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Saudi Arabia’s top clerical council, the only body in the country authorised to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, declared on Wednesday that “terrorism is a heinous crime” under Sharia, and perpetrators should be made an example of.

The statement, days after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states pledged in Jeddah to combat militant ideology, was the most comprehensive attack the kingdom’s conservative clergy have made so far on Islamist radicalism and the Islamic State group.

In a statement carried on state media, they did not specify particular punishments, but said they should act as a deterrent. Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty, usually by public beheading, for many serious crimes.

Signed by all 21 members of the council and quoting extensively from the Koran and sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, the statement also prohibits militant financing or encouraging young people towards militant acts.

It said people who issued fatwas or other opinions that “justify terrorism” were not permissable in any way and were “the order of Satan”.

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