MAKKAH, Oct 29 — Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has said it is “wrong” to fight in Syria’s civil war and Saudi jihadists should not go.
“This is all wrong, it’s not obligatory,” Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said, according to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.
“These are feuding factions and one should not go there. I do not advise one to go there… Going to a land that you do not know and without experience, you will be a burden to them, what they want from you is your prayer,” he said
Thousands of Saudis are believed to have headed to Syria to join the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which began in March 2011. Over 115,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by the conflict which has escalated into a bloody civil war.
Al-Sheikh also warned preachers against inciting young men to fight in Syria during their sermons, after delivering what the paper said was a lecture on “Deviation among youth” at a Saudi mosque.
Saudi Arabia has backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, publicly calling on the world powers to “enable” Syrians to protect themselves.
But it fears that its jihadists could return home ready to wage war on their own rulers, like Al Qaeda fighters led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden did in a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia from 2003 to 2006.
Assad and Syria’s ruling elite are viewed by Saudi Arabia’s puritanical Islamists as infidels because of their roots in the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.—IANS/AKI