Sheikh Dr. Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, one of the leading religious authorities in Sunni Islam, was asked about the murder of American citizen Nick Berg in Iraq during his weekly religious show on Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) . Following is a verbatim translation of Al-Qaradhawi's position regarding the murder, as it appeared on Al-Jazeera TV on May 16, 2004:
Host: Many young people have called and asked you for a brief commentary about the story of the slaughter of a hostage. In a nutshell, is what happened Islamic or un-Islamic?
Qaradhawi: The truth is that what happened is a reaction to these barbaric acts (in Abu Ghureib prison). Had you asked me about this another time I would have had a different answer. But what could they possibly do in face of this horrifying, frightening barbarism that cannot be imagined or accepted…
I say that the general atmosphere affects behavior. You cannot separate a man's behavior from the general atmosphere. Even though Islam states that prisoners should be treated decently, there are those who allow killing a prisoner in certain circumstances. The atmosphere is what caused them to adopt this position even though the method of slaughter has no justification in our days.
However, these pictures (from Abu Ghureib prison) that we have seen published all over the world caused much anxiety and every one relates to the issue in different ways. We must refer to the subject from this angle and in this framework.