Saudi scholars condemn violence

About 40 Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia have condemned those who incite the violence that has plagued their country in the past 20 months.

    More than 100 people have been killed in a spate of attacks

    The group said the violence was against Islamic law and went on to specifically mention attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure.

    "We reaffirm that such acts are prohibited, and we condemn those who praise these acts and incite [extremists] to target the nation's oil interests and vital installations," a group of academics and public figures from across Saudi Arabia said in a statement on Sunday. 

    The declaration came a month after Saudi-born fighter Usama bin Ladin, in an audiotape posted on a website, called on his followers to strike oil facilities in the Gulf and Iraq and warned Saudi leaders they risked a popular uprising. 

    "Incitement and praise of acts of bombings and destruction in the name of religion - and the resulting events - have tarnished the image of Islam," Sunday's statement said. 

    'Prohibited' acts

    Thinkers and Muslim scholars must "step up efforts to explain that such acts are prohibited. We also call on those who have espoused destructive ideas to reconsider their attitude and fear God," it said. 

    "We also call on those who have espoused destructive ideas to reconsider their attitude and fear God"

    Scholars' statement

    While urging "all citizens to close ranks," the signatories called on "officials to [engage in] serious reform through clear mechanisms and specific programmes, chiefly as pertains to youth and their problems, in order to safeguard the country's security and stability and prevent the emergence of a climate that can be exploited by proponents of [violence]." 

    The 41 signatories included Tawfiq al-Qussayir and Khalid al-Ujaimi, two university professors briefly detained by the authorities in March for signing pro-reform petitions, and prominent moderates such as Muhsin al-Awaji and Safar al-Hawali. 

    Presumed al-Qaida fighters have carried out a spate of bombing and shooting attacks in Saudi Arabia that have killed more than 100 people killed and wounded hundreds more since May 2003.



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