Religious scholars declare suicide attacks in Pakistan un-Islamic

October 15th, 2008 - 5:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 15 (DPA) A powerful grouping of Islamic scholars has issued a decree against suicide attacks inside Pakistan, declaring them “forbidden,” media reports said Wednesday.However, it threatened to declare jihad (holy war) against the United States if it did not halt recently increased airstrikes in the country.

The fatwa, or edict, came Tuesday from the Muttahida Ulema Council (United Scholars Council) which represents all schools of thought, including the minority Shia Muslim sect.

“It is a unanimous decree of the ulema (scholars) that suicide attacks in Pakistan are haram (forbidden) and illegitimate,” the Dawn newspaper cited a joint declaration issued by the meeting held in the eastern city of Lahore as saying.

The declaration came at a time when Islamic militants have launched a spate of suicide bombings against government forces and politicians.

Hundreds of people, mostly security personnel, have been killed in the last 16 months, including at least 55 who perished in a suicide truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Sep 20.

Similar edicts have also been released in the past, but many hard-line Pakistanis say these were issued by pro-government scholars as part of a campaign to soften up anti-American public sentiment and please the West.

However, the recent declaration came from a group of ulema that also included representatives of Islamist organizations suspected of involvement in fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir and international troops in Afghanistan.

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