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Scholars Urge Jihad In Event of Iraq War

Cairo Center Declares All Muslims Threatened. Islamic scholars at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the preeminent seat of Sunni Muslim learning in the Arab world, have declared a U.S. attack on Iraq would threaten all Arabs and Muslims and urged a jihad to defend their interests. The statement, published in Egyptian newspapers today, said the U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf region in preparation for a likely invasion of Iraq is part of a new “crusade,” a highly emotive word in the Arab world, where the medieval Crusades still frame relations with the West. “According to Islamic law, if the enemy steps on Muslims’ land, jihad becomes a duty on every male and female Muslim,” said the statement by the Islamic Research Academy, the center of religious scholarship at the 1,000-year-old university. It calls upon “Arabs and Muslims throughout the world to be ready to defend themselves and their faith.” Although commonly translated as “holy war,” jihad has a far broader meaning in Islamic law. While it can serve as a call to arms, and is often articulated that way, it is also commonly used to invoke a more spiritual, inward-looking devotion. In that light, some scholars said the statement was not necessarily advocating violence. Full Story

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