From Egypt to Lebanon and Kuwait to Jordan, Muslim and Arab leaders on Friday expressed shock and outrage at the siege that ended with the death of an estimated 200 people.

 

The harshest condemnation came from Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Grand Shaikh Muhammad Sayid Tantawi, who described the siege as a "criminal act".

 

"What is the guilt of those children? Why should they be responsible for your conflict with the government," Tantawi said during a Friday sermon as he addressed the hostage-takers.

Against Islam

"You are taking Islam as cover and it is a deceptive cover, those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims," he said.

“What is the guilt of those children” Why should they be responsible for your conflict with the government”

Grand Shaikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric

During a meeting with Russia’s visiting foreign minister in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak expressed his "sympathy with the Russian people".

Lebanese President Emile Lahud in a cable to Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the "tragic events".

"Lebanon denounces all forms of terror, especially that which threatens the lives of children and innocents," Lahud said.

Kuwait's Prime Minister Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah expressed his "great regret for the victims of this terrorist operation," which he said "goes against all human values and threatens the lives of innocent civilians".

In Amman, government spokeswoman Asma Khader said Jordan "condemns such acts, especially the kidnapping of civilians and to scare them in such a heinous way, even more, when most are children".

"Any cause cannot be achieved by such criminal means."

Joining the chorus of condemnation was Iran, which described the siege as "grossly inhuman".