What happened to the old one?
“Clerics urge new jihad over Gaza,” from the BBC, February 17 (thanks to all who sent this in):
At a weekend meeting in Istanbul, 200 religious scholars and clerics met with senior Hamas officials to plot a new jihad centred on Gaza.
The BBC’s Bill Law was the only Western journalist at the meeting.
In a hall crowded with conservative Sunni Muslim sheikhs and scholars, in a hotel close to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport speaker after speaker called for jihad against Israel in support of Hamas.
The choice of Turkey was significant. Arab hardliners were keen to put aside historic differences with the Turks.
As one organiser put it: “During the past 100 years relations have been strained but Palestine has brought us together.”
Many delegates spoke appreciatively of the protest by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who stormed out of a Davos debate on Gaza two weeks ago.
The conference, dubbed the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign, also gave impetus to Sunni clerics concerned about the growing power of Hezbollah, the Shia movement backed by Iran, which rose to international prominence in its own war with Israel in 2006.
“Gaza is a gift,” the Saudi religious scholar Mohsen al-Awajy told me. He and other delegates repeatedly referred to the Gaza war as “a victory”.
“Gaza,” he continued, “gives us power, it solves our differences. We are all now in a unified front against Zionism.”
In closed meetings after sessions delegates focussed on the creation of a “third Jihadist front” – the first two being Afghanistan and Iraq. The intensity of the Israeli attack had “awakened all Muslims,” Mr Awajy claimed.
“Palestine is a legitimate theatre of operations for jihad (holy war),” he added….