Saudi Cleric Urges Muslims to Avenge Gaza Raids

News article, posted 03.24.2010, from Saudi Arabia
Haaretz Service and News Agencies

A Saudi Web site on Sunday reported that a popular cleric has issued a fatwa urging Muslims to target Israeli interests everywhere, to avenge the attacks on the Gaza Strip. The site, Rasid, posts news about Saudi Arabia's Shiite community and on Sunday said that Sheik Awadh al-Garni has issued a religious edict urging Muslims to strike anything that has a link to Israel, calling it a legitimate target for Muslims everywhere.

Al-Garni, whose is popular in the kingdom, is not a member of the official religious establishment. Fatwas are not legally binding, and it is up to the individual Muslim to follow them. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday also issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel's attacks on Gaza, state television said.

"All Palestinian combatants and all the Islamic world's pious people are obliged to defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible. Whoever is killed in this legitimate defense is considered a martyr," state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a statement.

Israel launched an unprecedented assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 280 people and sparking protests and condemnations throughout the Arab world. Many of Israel's Western allies urged restraint, though the U.S. blamed Hamas for the fighting. In his statement on Sunday, Khamenei also criticized some Arab governments for their "encouraging silence" towards the Israel's raids on Gaza.