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Muslim Scholars Come to Mickey Mouse's Rescue

A number of Muslim scholars are condemning a recent Islamic edict, or fatwah, by Syrian-born Saudi Sheikh Mohammed Salah al Munjid calling for Mickey Mouse to be put to death. The fatwah has been mocked and derided internationally as Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Beirut.

If he could Mickey Mouse might breath a sigh of relief, after a number of Islamic clerics came out against a fatwah calling for the Disney cartoon character to be "put to death."

Syrian-born Saudi Sheikh Mohammed Salah al Munjid, speaking recently on Saudi religious TV Al Majd al Islamiya, called Mickey Mouse a "soldier of Satan," and urged that he be killed.

"[This mouse] is a detestable character. He is completely rotten. Satan hides behind his image," he says. "The mouse is obviously a soldier of Satan."

Sheikh Munjid, who once worked as a Saudi diplomat in Washington, claims that children in the Arab world now "worship mice as exalted beings," when, in fact, Islam teaches that they are "unclean."

Meanwhile, an Egyptian woman cleric, also a well-known TV figure, Suad Saleh, defended Mickey Mouse, saying that Sheikh Munjid's fatwah makes Islam look "ridiculous."

She argues that "real mice should be killed, according to the precepts of Islam, but that [Mickey] is a cartoon character ... so, killing him makes no sense."

On Al Arabiya TV, another Islamic scholar, Sheikh Mohammed Duheim, condemned Sheikh Munjid's ruling, insisting that he has "no right to speak for Islam."

"We must come out clearly on this issue," he says, "we are a diverse group of people, from many different cultures, and not everyone who claims to speak in the name of Islam speaks for all Muslims."

The fatwah against Mickey Mouse also sparked ridicule in the West, causing TV commentators from Fox News, Saturday Night Live, and even late-night talk show host Jay Leno to poke fun at the ruling.

Finally, adding to the tempest, Sheikh Munjid is now denying that he issued a fatwah to kill Mickey Mouse.

"I was merely expressing a personal opinion," he says.