02/04/2015, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST - ISLAM

Al Azhar calls for the killing, crucifixion and chopping of the limbs of Islamic State terrorists

The Grand Imam of the prestigious and influential Islamic centre comes out against those who burnt alive the Jordanian pilot. Across the Arab and Muslim world, Islamist terrorists are now reviled by those who until recently supported them. UAE pulls its planes from the coalition. In Jordan, all the churches ring the bells of mourning.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Egypt's al Azhar University, Sunni Islam's foremost religious authority, called for the "Killing, crucifixion and chopping of the limbs" of Islamic State (IS) terrorists who burnt alive Jordanian pilot Moaz al Kasabeh, probably in Syria.

This death of the young Jordanian pilot, posted online, caused a rush of condemnations in the Arab-Islamic world, but very little in terms of political decisions.

In an overnight press statement, Egypt's top Muslim authority, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, expressed his "deep anger over the lowly terrorist act", adding that the Qur'an prescribes "killing, crucifixion and chopping of the limbs" for those who kill innocent people.

Last December, al-Tayeb had already condemned the "barbaric crimes" committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed that terrorist groups like the Islamic State "represent epidemics that must be eradicated by civilised societies without delay." He noted that at "Muslim societies, in particular, must defend our Islamic religion from these attacks and acts that aims to distort its noble values."

In Saudi Arabia, an official source quoted by the Saudi Press Agency accused the pilot's killers of being be "enemies of Islam" and reiterated the kingdom's determination "to move forward in the fight against this misguided thought and all extremist organizations that support it."

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE are part of the international anti-IS coalition led by the United States.

Moaz al Kasasbeh's execution was presented as a "punishment" against Jordan for participating in the "crusader coalition".

This was not lost on some observers. "The fire of the terrorist group burned the Jordanian after Amman facilitated . . . the entry of thousands of Salafists across its border so they could fight alongside armed groups against the Syrian Arab army," Syrian daily Al-Watan wrote.

Jordan, but especially Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Turkey - along with Western countries like France, Great Britain, and the United States - have supported the fight against Bashar al Assad by financing and arming "opposition" groups that they are now describing as "terrorists".

Bahrain and Kuwait slammed the killing of the Jordanian pilot, branding the act as an affront to Islam and "to all religions."

Iran called Kasabeh's murder inhuman and unIslamic. At the same time, it extended its condolences to the family, and expressed its solidarity to the Hashemite kingdom.

Despite such broad consensus, the UAE government decided to suspend its participation in air strikes against IS.

This decision was taken in December, just after the Jordanian pilot's capture, out of fear that something similar could happen to Emirati pilots.

In Jordan, the Amman-based Catholic Center for Studies and Media, has called for all of the country's churches to ring the bells of mourning and say prayers and Masses during the week "for the loss of the martyr of the homeland".

The Center's director, Fr Rifat Bader, also sent his condolences to Kasabeh's family and to all those who suffer "from extremism, bigotry and terrorism."

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