Sunni Islam's highest authority condemned on Sunday the acts of Muslim extremists holding 21 hostages on a Philippine island, saying Islam rejects all forms of violence.
"Such acts of violence have nothing to do with Islam," said a statement from Al-Azhar, Cairo's thousand-year-old center of Islamic learning and the highest authority for the world's Sunni Muslims.
"The Grand Imam (Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi) asks people to use their wisdom and understand that it is more just to make individuals accountable for their own actions, rather than hold a religion like Islam accountable," said the statement from Al-Azhar's permanent committee for dialogue with monotheistic religions.
"The Muslim religion promotes peace, brotherhood and justice," said the statement faxed to AFP.
Nine Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two Finns, two South Africans, two Filipinos and one Lebanese have been held since April 23 by the Abu Sayyaf, the smaller of two Muslim insurgent groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the south -- CAIRO (AFP)
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