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August 25, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10158

Condemning Moroccan Scholar Ahmad Al-Raysuni's Call For 'Jihad' Against Algeria, Muslim Scholars Say He Should Instead Have Called For Jihad Against Israel Or Liberating Ceuta and Melilla From Spain

August 25, 2022
North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 10158

In an interview that aired July 29, 2022,[1] the president of the Qatar-funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Ahmad Al-Raysuni, called for "jihad" and a military march to the Algerian city of Tindouf and referred to the existence of Mauritania as a mistake.


Al-Raysuni

In response to his statement, other Muslim scholars widely condemned Al-Raysuni for calling for jihad against a Muslim nation, saying that he should have instead called for jihad against Israel or for liberating Ceuta and Melilla from Spain.

Reacting to Al-Raysuni's statement, Algerian cleric Abd Al-Fatah Hamdash posted a video on his YouTube channel on August 16, 2022 in which he called Al-Raysuni an "idiot" and "coward."[2] "If he were brave," he said, "he would have called for a military march to the state of the Zionist entity, and if he were sincere, he would have called for a march to the cities of Ceuta and Melilla."

Hamdash also noted that had Al-Raysuni called for war against Israel, he would have been right to do so, and suggested that the war should have been declared against the "Spanish occupiers" and that Al-Raysuni should be at the front lines in the war against Israel. He added that Al-Raysuni should have asked the government in Morocco to cancel all agreement with Israel and "expelled all the Zionists from your country. This is what you should have done .. instead of calling for discord between brothers and neighbors."

Algerian cleric Shams Al-Din Al-Jazai'ri also condemned Al-Raysuni's statements, in a video posted on YouTube on August 21, 2022.[3] In it, he said: "The president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in the world called for jihad, but this jihad is not in Palestine, Burma, or Ceuta and Melilla, and is not in any occupied Muslim land and not to free a Muslim nation. Rather, he called for jihad in a Muslim country .." Further stressing the danger of Al-Raysouni's statement, he added: "I would like people to understand the danger of this fatwa. I don't care if he is Moroccan, Italian, Spanish, or Algerian. What I care about is that he is a man who issued a fatwa in the name of the religion. In the name of Islam. He legitimized terrorism... When this man calls for the restoration of Mauritania and the liberation of Tindouf, which is inhabited by Muslim people... he is calling for [the spilling of] blood and for killing. This where the danger is. He calls for the killing of Muslims... Scholars do not call for infighting among Muslims..."

Al-Jazai'ri also stressed Al-Raysuni's prominent role, saying: "How is it that he is the president of an organization that calls for the unification of Muslims, and then calls for the infighting among Muslims?"

In his August 19, 2022 Friday sermon, Algerian cleric Youssouf Boughaba condemned Al-Raysuni's statements, saying that the fatwa would be "exploited by the Zionists and the enemy of Islam who seek to cause discord .."[4]

The Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), the largest opposition party in the Algerian parliament released a statement on August 15, 2022 condemning Al-Raysuni's statements, saying that he should have called for "massive rallies in various Moroccan cities against the normalization of relations with the Zionist entity and opposing the strategic alliance between his country and the entity occupying Palestine." The MSP added: "Instead of calling for strife and bloodshed among Muslims, it would have been better for him to call for jihad with money and life for the liberation of the Moroccan Ceuta and Melilla."

Algeria's official response on August 16, 2022, issued by the Ministerial Fatwa Committee of the Ministry of Religious Endowment, called Al-Raysuni's statement "provocative" and said that it "includes blatant incitement and a clear call for attacks on the sovereignty of nations."[5] It went on to stated that the "real jihad" was the one waged by the Algerians against the French colonization and the one waged by the Palestinian people against Israel.

In response to the extensive criticism, the IUMS distanced itself from its president's controversial comments, saying that they did not represent the IUMS position. The IUMS statement signed by the organization's secretary-general, Ali Al-Qaradaghi, said: "Interviews or articles by office bearers express their personal opinions, not necessarily the consensus of the IUMS. While Al-Raysuni has the right to express his personal opinion, with full respect and appreciation for him and others, it is not the opinion of the union."[6]

The Mauritanian government also condemned Al-Raysuni's comments. A statement delivered by Education Minister Maa' Al-'Aynain Oueld Abeeh on August 17, 2022 called them "baseless" and added that they "go against laws and legislations that regulate the relationships among nations and states."[7]

Despite the broad condemnation, Al-Raysuni did not apologize to Algeria or Mauritania. Instead, he appeared on the Moroccan Al-Maghribia channel, on August 21, 2022,[8] to deny that he had called for jihad against Algeria. Saying that he had meant a peaceful march to meet and discuss the issue of the Western Sahara with the separatists who live in Tindouf, he said he had proposed marching "to Tindouf because it is the capital of the Polisario and of the so-called the Sahrawi Arab Republic, where thousands of Sahrawis reside." Asked about the kind of jihad he had referred to in his statement, Al-Raysuni replied: "Our jihad is scientific, intellectual and cultural, and to clarify and engage in dialogue. This is our duty. But when Morocco experiences a military attack and the country needs financial, political or moral support, the people are with it. I say this so that the country's officials will not feel the need for foreign support. I have mentioned that in the context of strongly condemning the idea of establishing relations with Israel, and the military agreements and the purchase of weapons .. Morocco definitely does not need Israel."

Defending his comment about Mauritania, Al-Raysuni noted that it had been named by French colonizers and that it should instead be called the "Land of Shanqeet" – shanqeet, or bilad shanqeet, was the term used for centuries for the region prior to the arrival of the French.[9] 

 

[1] Youtube.com/watch?v=BMnr9_IpYWU, July 29, 2022.

[2] youtube.com/watch?v=3PXZsLmiVhg&t=620s, August 16, 2022.

[3] Youtube.com/watch?v=miMSZNmkFuI, August 21, 2022.

[4] outube.com/watch?v=mEXW4IcQ70I, August 19, 2022.

[5] Facebook.com/MARWDZAIR/posts, August 16, 2022.

[6] Iumsonline.org, August 15, 2022.

[7] Youtube.com/watch?v=rF1PtjwGFLU, August 17, 2022.

[8] Youtube.com/watch?v=uNlX-HX3Ji8, August 21, 2022.

[9] Islamicheritage.co.za/shanqeet.

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