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  Saudi Denounces Killing of Christians

The Associated Press
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2001; 12:01 p.m. EDT

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia –– Saudi Arabia's top religious leader has denounced the killings of Christians and Jews living in Muslim countries, saying they are forbidden under Islam.

"He who kills those who signed the accords and those who received our guarantees of safety will not smell the fragrance of paradise," Sheik Abdulaziz al-Sheik said in an interview published Wednesday by the daily al-Riyadh newspaper.

The mufti was referring to peace agreements the Prophet Muhammad signed with Jews and Christians living in Muslim territories in the early days of the faith.

Al-Sheik said such killings would have "grave consequences, including incitement, sedition and undermining security."

The mufti said that such killings are "forbidden" under Islam.

His comments appear to be a response to those of a spokesman for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, who earlier this month threatened the lives of Americans and Britons living in the Persian Gulf.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said al-Qaida had ordered Americans and Britons to leave the Arabian Peninsula because the "land will burn with fire under their feet, God willing."

Al-Sheik, who is appointed by the king, angered many Muslims by standing nearly alone among prominent regional clerics in issuing a religious order, or fatwa, in April – following several suicide bombings in Israel – that said that such attacks are contrary to Islamic teachings.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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