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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More