Sunni Scholars Call for Jihad to Defend Muslim Land
VOA News - 11 Mar 2003
Islamic scholars at Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar University say a U.S.-led attack on Iraq would be a "new crusade" compelling Muslims to perform jihad to defend their faith.
The pronouncement, which is published in Egyptian newspapers, calls on Arabs and Muslims worldwide to unite to defend themselves, as well as their doctrine.
The statement came from the Islamic Research Center at Al-Azhar, which is the world's leading teaching institution for Sunni Muslims.
The statement says the main impact of any U.S.-led war on Iraq will be felt in Arab and Islamic communities, and alleges that the rest of the Arab world will then be targeted by Washington and its allies.
The statement says that according to Islamic law, jihad becomes the duty of every Muslim man and woman if "the enemy" steps on Muslim land. Jihad is often translated as holy war, but the term also has broader meanings of struggle and devotion, and some scholars say the Al-Azhar statement stopped short of calling for violence.
Several Muslim nations, like Kuwait and Qatar, are assisting American war plans against Iraq, and others including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan are seen as U.S. allies.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.