Hit extremists with ‘iron hand’, top cleric tells world Muslims

MOUNT ARAFAT – Muslim leaders must strike the enemies of
Islam with “an iron hand”, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric said
during Friday prayers, in apparent condemnation of the
Islamic State jihadist group.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh’s comments came
after Saudi Arabia and four other Arab nations joined the
United States in aerial bombardment of the IS militants in
Syria.
Speaking to Muslims from around the world in an address
during the annual hajj pilgrimage, the mufti called on fellow
Islamic leaders to “hit with an iron hand the enemies of
Islam.”
The IS group has declared a “caliphate” straddling Syria and
Iraq where they have committed a spate of atrocities
including crucifixions and beheadings.
“Your religion is threatened. Your security is threatened,” he
thundered, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
“These criminals carry out rapes, bloodshed and looting,” he
said, adding that “these vile crimes can be considered
terrorism” and their perpetrators have nothing to do with
Islam.
“They are tyrants,” he said, warning of “their deviant
ideology.”
The mufti spoke from Nimrah Mosque at Mount Arafat in
western Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites.
Close to two million Muslims from around the world were
gathered at Mount Arafat for a day of prayer at the peak of
the annual hajj.
The comments were the mufti’s latest criticism of the
extremists.
In August, he urged Muslim youth not to be influenced by
“calls for jihad … on perverted principles,” and he described
Al-Qaeda and IS jihadists as “enemy number one” of Islam.
The kingdom is seeking to deter youths from becoming
jihadists after Syria’s conflict attracted hundreds of Saudis.
King Abdullah decreed in February jail terms of up to 20
years for citizens who travel to fight abroad.

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