Religious leaders from Muslim nations differ on suicide bombings and holy war

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2002

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Religious leaders from Muslim nations disagreed at a meeting this week over whether suicide bombings in Israel should be condemned or considered legitimate means of resistance.

The debate among religious affairs ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference echoed a March meeting of foreign ministers from Muslim countries. They also were unable to agree on a definition of terrorism.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday that holy war cannot be won with violence and that suicide bombings only serve to bolster the view that Palestinians are terrorists.

Abdullah warned against Muslims ''who have a flawed understanding of our faith and rally under the banner of militancy.

''If Islam is equated with the acts of a minority who have hijacked our faith, the world will continue to fear and loathe Islam,'' Abdullah said.

But Saudi Arabia's minister for Islam, Sheik Salleh Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Sheik, said ''the suicide bombings are permitted'' and bombers ''are considered to have died a martyr's death.''

The Palestinians' armed jihad is permissible because they are fighting for their rightful land, he said. Jihad, he said, ''can range from practicing self-control to defending your country.''

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