News / Middle East

Saudi Religious Leader Condemns Suicide Attacks

FILE - Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, prays during a funeral at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, Feb. 2008.FILE - Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, prays during a funeral at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, Feb. 2008.
x
FILE - Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, prays during a funeral at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, Feb. 2008.
FILE - Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, prays during a funeral at the Grand Mosque in Riyadh, Feb. 2008.
Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has condemned suicide bombings as grave crimes, reiterating his stance in unusually strong language.

The Saudi cleric, whose views influence many Sunni Muslims respectful of the kingdom's strict version of Islam, denounced suicide attacks after al-Qaida's 2001 assault on U.S. cities, but his latest comments recast the message in sharp terms.

“Killing oneself is a grave crime and a grave sin,” Sheik Abdulaziz Al al-Sheik was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab, Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper on Thursday.

“Those who kill themselves with explosives are criminals who are hastening their way to hell.”

Nearly two months ago, the mufti, who is appointed and paid by the Saudi government, urged Saudis not to travel to Syria to join Sunni rebels battling to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.

Riyadh broadly backs the rebels, but with the rise of Islamist militant factions in Syria, it has grown increasingly worried that Saudis who fight for the anti-Assad cause might one day return home to wage a jihad in the kingdom.

Saudis who had fought for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Iraq staged a violent campaign in their homeland from 2003-06 in a failed attempt to bring down the ruling al-Saud dynasty.

Although some prominent Saudi clerics spoke approvingly of suicide attacks on non-Muslims more than a decade ago, most have since argued against such actions.

“Their [suicide bombers] hearts have veered away from the right path, their minds have been invaded by evil,” Al Hayat quoted Al al-Sheik as saying after what the daily described as a recent lecture in a Riyadh mosque. “They have been exploited in order to cause destruction to themselves and society.”

The mufti did not refer to suicide bombings in a specific country. Such attacks have occurred across the Middle East and beyond, nowadays most frequently in Iraq and Syria.

Saudi Arabia's policy toward Syria reflects its regional power struggle with Shi'ite Iran, a strong ally of Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Sunni hardliners regard Shi'ites as heretics.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs