But where on the web are the moderate fatwas that forbid violence in the name of Islam and explain why these radical fatwas are wrong? Anyone? Anyone?
This is just another example of how radical Muslims are in the intellectual ascendancy everywhere in the Islamic world. There are many non-terrorist Muslims, but they have not refuted the radicals on Islamic grounds.
From the New York Times via the International Herald Tribune, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia A recent fatwa posted on a popular Islamic Web site in Saudi Arabia explains when a Muslim may mutilate the corpse of an infidel. The ruling, written by a Saudi religious sheik, Omar Abdullah Hassan al-Shehabi, decrees that the dead can be mutilated as a reciprocal act when the enemy is disfiguring Muslim corpses, or when it otherwise serves the Islamic nation. In the second category, the reasons include “to terrorize the enemy” or to gladden the heart of a Muslim warrior.
The religious ruling was evidently posted to address questions about the conflict in Iraq, but is not limited by geography. In fact, in each of two gruesome attacks in Saudi Arabia last month that left 25 foreigners and five Saudis dead, a Western corpse was dragged for some distance behind a car. One was the body of an American engineer in Yanbu on May 1, the other a British businessman in Khobar last weekend.
That a cleric can post such an argument in an open forum goes a long way toward explaining how the most radical interpretations of religious texts flourish in Saudi Arabia.
Fatwas like this one help pave the way for bloody assaults against foreigners in Saudi Arabia, many Saudi intellectuals believe. The stakes are higher here than anywhere else because the world price of oil hinges on perceptions of Saudi Arabia’s stability.
Still, the government remains cautious in confronting homegrown radicals, Saudi analysts and a few princes say, although security forces have done important work tracking down extremists.
“We are still using soft language when we talk about the problem of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia,” said Sulaiman al-Hattlan, a Saudi columnist. “We have not addressed the ideology of these groups, which is the same one the government is promoting. They attack just the individuals.”