CAIRO: Egypt’s top religious authority condemned Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS which has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria, describing it as a corrupt, extremist organization that is damaging Islam.
“An extremist and bloody group such as this poses a danger to Islam and Muslims, tarnishing its image as well as shedding blood and spreading corruption,” said Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, the state news agency MENA reported Tuesday.
Egyptian media reports said Allam also expressed his objection to “widespread error” in referring to the group as “the Islamic State,” its new name, because it violates both long-established principles of Shariah and the contemporary foundations of humanitarian law.
ISIS has declared a caliphate in the territory it has captured in Iraq and Syria. It sees all Shiites as heretics and boasted of killing hundreds of captive Shiite soldiers in June.
Allam said ISIS’ actions strengthened the hand of those who wanted to harm Islam.
“[They] give an opportunity for those who seek to harm us, to destroy us and interfere in our affairs with the [pretext of a] call to fight terrorism,” Allam said.
The comments came as the Vatican called on Muslim religious leaders to take a “clear and courageous stance” and condemn “unspeakable criminal acts” by ISIS.
“The terrible position of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance from religious leaders, especially Muslims,” the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said.
Last week, the United States bombed ISIS targets in northern Iraq, saying it was protecting the Kurdish autonomous region and trying to prevent what U.S. President Barack Obama called a potential genocide of religious minorities.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 13, 2014, on page 8.