Fatwa issued to kill two Saudi writers

A leading Wahhabi cleric has issued a fatwa that calls for the killing of two Saudi writers. The cleric, Sheikh Abdurrahman al-Baraak, is reportedly close to Al-Qaeda.
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Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi and Yusuf Abu al-Khayl. R.R.

BEIRUT, March  17, 2008 (MENASSAT)  - One of Saudi Arabia's leading clerics has said in a fatwa issued last week that two Saudi journalists should be tried for apostasy and put to death if they do not repent, Reuters as well as several Arab media have reported.

The fatwa by Wahhabi cleric Sheihk Abdurrahman al-Baraak came in response to articles written by journalists Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi and Yusuf Abu al-Khayl in Al-Riyadh newspaper, in which they questioned the point of view that Christians and Jews should be considered unbelievers.

Bin Nijad's article was entitled, "The Islam of the Sharia and the Islam of Struggle," Abu al-Khayl's article was called, "The Other in the Islamic Balance."

The fatwa describes the two journalists as defectors, demanding their repentance.

The most dangerous part in the fatwa is probably the incitement to the killing of the two journalists, for the scholar went on to say that "those who are against the Islam should be judged to repent, otherwise they should be killed and denied the burial rituals."

The fatwa has raised much controversy among the media, in addition to the cultural and religious circles, to the extent that al-Arabiya satellite channel consecrated a whole program about it.

Abdullah bin Bijad, who is known for his strong positions against fundamentalism and extremism, said in an interview with Elaph website that those who know al-Baraak’s history also know of his close ties with violent religious movements.

He told al-Arabiya that he will not stop writing and expressing his opinions and thoughts despite the fatwa, which he describes as "coming from the dark ages."

Bin Bijad said al-Baraak's statements are in accordance with al-Qaeda's directions and its leaders' incitement to kill writers, intellectuals and even political figures it considers as offenders of Islam.

According to the Saudi Information Agency (SIA)
, "Video tapes captured in Afghanistan and seen by SIA News showed Al-Qaeda training to kill liberal writers and journalists in Saudi Arabia."

For Bin Bijad, it is nothing new to have a fatwa issued against his person.

"I have had previous fatwas against me," he said, "but this one is particularly dangerous because of how it is phrased. [But] I won't allow this to stop me from presenting my thoughts and convictions. I am a writer and my pen is all have."

As for Yusuf Abu al-Khayl, an expert in Islamic issues, he told Elaph that he is planning to sue al-Baraak.

"I will file a complaint. I have to. Who gave al-Baraak the right to spill my blood and the blood of my colleague Abdullah bin Bijad, calling us 'offenders'? He is neither a Mufti nor a religious scholar."

Al-Baraak, 75, is considered the highest Wahhabi Muslim religious authority in the world, and is the teacher of the current Saudi Mufti and most of the Saudi official religious leadership.

Among his previous fatwas was one labeling Shia Muslims as heretics, and another excluding the majority of Sunni Muslims, those adhering to the Ashari doctrine, from the Sunni branch of Islam. He also called for the killing of Danish officials and the enslaving of Danish women following the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed in 2006.

Al-Baraak is a known supporter of Al-Qaeda, but that didn't stop Saudi King Abdullah from receiving him several times a year, and extending financial support to him in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to SIA News.