07/05/2008, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi muftis: terrorists and their supporters are committing a "grave sin"

The highest Muslim authorities call for "respect for the dictates of Islam" without fomenting "hatred and division". Also condemned are those who offer protection and cover for the fundamentalists. Since January, there have been more than 520 arrests, with the accusation of planning attacks on the kingdom's refineries.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The religious leaders of the country are declaring war on the Islamic fundamentalists and those who protect them. In an official document published last Thursday, the grand mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al Sheikh calls upon Saudis and foreigners to "not offer refuge and protection to the terrorists", because they would be committing "a grave sin".

The statement of position of the Saudi religious authorities follows a declaration from the government, according to which "since last January, 520 fundamentalists have been arrested, suspected of planning attacks against oil facilities in the kingdom". A media campaign has been underway for some time to discredit the terrorists and fundamentalist ideology.

"The aggression against Muslims and the occupation of their lands", emphasises grand mufti al Sheikh, "cannot justify attacks and violence: obeying the dictates of the Qur'an without fomenting hatred and division is a basic principle of Islam, in accord with the precepts sanctioned by the prophet Mohammad".

Al-Qaeda militants have for some time been involved in a campaign aimed at destabilising Saudi Arabia, one of the main oil producers in the world and an ally of the United States; the decisive reaction from the Saudi authorities is intended to stop the wave of fundamentalism and gain support from the Western world. The most serious episode happened in February of 2006, with a failed attack on the most important oil refinery in the world, in Abqaiq. The narrow escape led the Saudi authorities to launch a massive campaign of prevention: hundreds of arrests of suspects, but some analysts doubt that all of these are terrorists connected to al-Qaeda.

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