Suicide Bombers Not Martyrs, Say Most of Region's Islamic leaders.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 24, 2002 | Go to article overview

Suicide Bombers Not Martyrs, Say Most of Region's Islamic leaders.(NATION)


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The claim by a Saudi diplomat that Palestinian suicide bombers are "martyrs" is not justified by the Koran, many Islamic leaders say.

Checks with a half-dozen mosques or Muslim organizations in the Washington metropolitan area found only one Muslim - a woman - who said she does consider the suicide bombers to be martyrs.

Other Islamic religious leaders reached in telephone calls made Friday, Saturday and Sunday declined to use that term. However, most did not directly condemn the actions of the suicide bombers.

"They are martyrs, of course ... they are defending the lives of their families and their land," said Fatima Hussein, who described herself as a member of the Idara Jaferia Islamic Center in Burtonsville.

Mrs. Hussein said the Palestinians are strapping bombs to their bodies "as a last resort," because they have "only stones and sticks" to use against an enemy that has powerful modern weapons.

"I'm not saying that what's going on is right, but when you have no other choice, it's right," Mrs. Hussein, who said she came to this country from India, told The Washington Times.

Ghazi Algosaibi, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to London, called the suicide bombers "martyrs" in a poem he wrote that appeared on the front page of the pan-Arab daily newspaper, al-Hayat, on April 13.

In the poem, Mr. Algosaibi singled out for praise an 18-year-old Palestinian girl, who blew herself up outside a Jerusalem supermarket, killing two Israelis. "She kisses death, laughing happily, while from death the leaders flee," the envoy wrote.

Sheik Saad-al Braik, a Saudi cleric, told Agence France-Presse that Mr. Algosaibi spoke for all Muslims, "who support martyrdom operations against the Israeli enemy." Sheik Braik recently organized a telethon that raised $160 million for the Palestinians.

Sheik Braik told AFP the Saudi ambassador had merely expressed the views of Muslims who feel "martyrdom" is legitimate, when there is no other means of self-defense.

A Saudi adviser Sunday defended the ambassador on NBC's "Meet the Press. …

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