- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

MADRID — Muslim clerics in Spain issued what they say is the world’s first fatwa, or Islamic edict, condemning Osama bin Laden as an “apostate,” as Spaniards yesterday paid respects to victims of multiple train bombings a year ago.

“The terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al Qaeda … are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam,” the fatwa said, citing Islam’s holy book, the Koran, as its authority.

“Inasmuch as Osama bin Laden and his organization defend terrorism as legal and try to base it on the Koran … they are committing the crime of ‘istihlal’ and thus become apostates that should not be considered Muslims or treated as such.”

The Arabic word istihlal refers to the act of making up one’s own laws.

The Islamic Commission of Spain is the main body representing the country’s 1 million-member Muslim community and about three-fourths of the nation’s mosques.

It issued the fatwa to coincide with the first anniversary of the March 11, 2004, train bombings by Muslim terrorists, who said they had acted on al Qaeda’s behalf in revenge for Spanish troop deployments in Iraq. The bombings killed 191 persons.

The commission’s secretary-general, Mansur Escudero, said the group had consulted with Muslim leaders in other countries, such as Morocco — home to most of the jailed suspects in the bombings — Algeria and Libya, and had their support.

“We felt now we had the responsibility and obligation to make this declaration,” Mr. Escudero said. “I hope there is a positive reaction from Muslims.”

Such an edict appears to be unprecedented. A search of news databases by The Washington Times uncovered only one instance of a fatwa against bin Laden — an edict by a rival Muslim group in Afghanistan in 1999 that led to a series of bloody clashes.

Muslim leaders have generally avoided condemning bin Laden. Public opinion polls show that the terrorist leader remains popular throughout the Islamic world, making Muslim critics likely targets for revenge.

Spaniards yesterday lit candles, laid down flowers and observed a long, mournful silence to mark the anniversary of the country’s worst terrorist attack.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia led government leaders and other dignitaries during the main memorial — a silent, five-minute noon vigil inaugurating a grove of 192 olive and cypress trees — one for each person killed in the bomb attack and a policeman killed when Islamist suspects seeking to avoid arrest blew themselves up.

Bells at hundreds of churches around Madrid also tolled for five minutes beginning at 7:37 a.m., when the first of 10 dynamite-loaded backpacks detonated on four rush-hour trains.

Socialists, who opposed the war in Iraq, ousted the ruling conservatives in elections held three days after the bombing, blaming Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of having made Spain a target for al Qaeda by backing the U.S.-led invasion.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide