Top Sunni Authority Condemns Suicide Attacks Against Civilians

CAIRO, Egypt, FEB. 6, 2002 ( Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantaui, imam of Al-Azhar, reiterated his decree stating that suicide attackers who kill civilians cannot be considered martyrs.

The Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsar reported today that Sheikh Tantaui, highest Sunni Muslim authority, confirmed the decree, although no further details were given.

The Sunni leader said last May: “If a man launches a suicide attack against combatant enemies, he is a martyr,” but “if a man launches a suicide attack against women, children and elderly people who do not participate in the war, he cannot be considered as a martyr.”

In December, in reaction to the Palestinian attacks in Israel that left civilians dead, Sheikh Tantaui told the press: “The Shariah [Islamic law] rejects any attack on human life and, in name of the Shariah we denounce any aggression against civilians, regardless of the community or state responsible for this aggression.”