Al Azhar's Top Sunni Muslim Cleric Condemns Palestinian, Israeli Attacks on Civilians

Published December 3rd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the highest Sunni Muslim authority, condemned Monday "any attack on innocent civilians" in the wake of weekend suicide attacks by Palestinian resistance fighters that killed some 30 people in Israel, reported AFP. 

Tantawi, sheikh of Cairo's Al Azhar University, said in a statement to the press that Islamic sharia law, "rejects all attempts on human life, and in the name of sharia we condemn all attacks on civilians, whatever the community or state responsible for such an attack." 

Tantawi was referring to both Israel and the Palestinians in his statement, said the agency. 

The Al Azhar authority, in remarks in late October, called Israeli oppression of Palestinians "a crime against humanity."  

The Palestinian press quoted him as telling the president of Al Quds University, Seri Nusseibeh, that "the attacks we see on Palestinian Muslims and Christians as well as on Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and elsewhere are in fact crimes against humanity."  

Tantawi criticized "those who equate Palestinian freedom fighters and terrorists."  

"It is an outrageous lie to call those who defend themselves against oppression 'terrorists,'" Tantawi said.  

This is the first time Al Azhar issued such a sweeping statement regarding suicide bombings carried out by Islamist Palestinian movements against Israeli civilian targets. 

The mode of attack is controversial among Muslim clerics, if only because suicide is not allowed in Islam. 

Top Saudi cleric Abdullah Sheikh has ruled that there is nothing in Islamic law that allows suicide operations. 

But whatever the official Muslim stance, the daily humiliations of Israel's 34-year occupation of Palestinian land, coupled with desperation fueled by Israel's long-running economic stranglehold, has apparently provided ample recruits for suicide attacks - 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (

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