Following Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. on October 29, 2012, many Twitter users in the Arab world expressed joy over the crisis in the U.S. and even wished for its demise, whereas others condemned these reactions and called to express compassion for the Americans. A number of Muslim clerics joined this debate, some of them agreeing with the first group and describing the hurricane as a punishment from Allah, and others agreeing with those who condemned this attitude.
The following are excerpts from some of the clerics' statements:
Among those who expressed satisfaction over the hurricane was Egyptian cleric Wadgi Ghoneim, who tweeted on October 29, 2012: "America is currently subject to [an attack] by one of Allah's weakest armies (meaning Hurricane Sandy)."
Magdi Ghoneim's tweet
On October 31, he tweeted: "In my opinion, this is revenge by the Lord [Allah] for [harming] his beloved Mustafa [another name for the Prophet Muhammad]..." Ghoneim presumably means that Allah sent the hurricane as punishment for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims.
Saudi cleric Nasser Al-'Omar likewise regarded the storm as divine punishment, and even issued a fatwa stating that the Muslims must be glad and thank Allah for it: "We must rejoice at anything that harms these arrogant and tyrannical oppressors. America is the spearhead of oppression, evil and tyranny in the present age. It has used its wealth, which Allah the Almighty bestowed upon it, to oppress mankind throughout the world. America's history is black, in every respect and in all parts of the globe, especially when it comes to [its treatment of] the Muslim nation. For America is an infidel and tyrannical nation that is hostile to Allah and His Messenger, and fights the Muslims. It has defiled and degraded Allah's Book [the Koran]. It is close to all that is evil and distant from all that is good, and defends terrorism in the world. Who supports Israel? Who endlessly defends the Jews? Who destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq? Who takes the wealth of the Muslims worldwide and repays them with missiles, bombs and nuclear warheads? America and its agents are [also] the ones who supervise the most oppressive and deadly prisons, such as Guantanamo. The list of its crimes around the world is endless, and nobody can compete with it... America's might [is used to promote] civil war, deception, evil, tyranny, and straying from the straight and narrow.
"So why should we not rejoice when it suffers harm?... Should we not be glad that Allah has heeded the prayers of the weak and oppressed around the world? Should we not be glad, when [the storm is clearly] a punishment from Allah for their crimes...? Some Muslims say [that] we should feel sorry about what has happened [in America]! This is a mistake [which indicates their] ignorance of the religious texts... When we see these strong winds destroying some of the states in America, we know it is a boon from Allah, for which we should be grateful and glad... In sum, we may rejoice over what has harmed America, for that is the reasoning of the Koran and the way of the prophets..."
UK-based Islamist Anjem Choudary tweeted: "Hurricanes, floods and tornados are the soldiers of Allah which Allah releases against those he wishes to punish or to wake up, Allah Akbar!"
Among the clerics who criticized these statements was the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz bin 'Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, who told the daily Al-Hayat: "It is improper to curse those affected by Hurricane Sandy in prayer, since there are many Muslims among them. We pray [that Allah] empower the Muslims and lead them to obedience... Muslims must learn a lesson from [natural] disasters and must not curse all [the victims]. This does not serve the Muslims, and must cease."
Saudi Sheikh Salman Al-'Odeh tweeted: "To all those who pray that Hurricane Sandy will bring disaster, I quote the words of the Prophet [Muhammad about] the idolaters in Mecca: 'I hope that [Allah] produces from their loins [sons] who worship Him [i.e., who become Muslims].'"
Salman Al-'Odeh's Twitter response
Al-Azhar Sheikh Salam 'Abd Al-Galil said: "The Muslims should not draw a connection between the hurricane and the anti-Islamic film, and should not rejoice over the crisis because this will trigger disdain and contempt [against them]. Allah puts all of his creatures to the test, [both] the Muslims and the infidels. Muslim nations can also by hit by a hurricane at any time, and then the other nations will heap scorn upon us."
 Twitter.com/wagdighoneim, October 29, 2012.
 Twitter.com/wagdighoneim, October 31, 2012.
 Umh1.com, October 30, 2012.
 Twitter.com/anjemchoudary, October 30, 2012.
 Al-Hayat (London), October 31, 2012.
 Twitter.com/salman_alodah, October 30, 2012.
 Al-Watan (Egypt), October 30, 2012.