MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's leading Islamic body has issued a religious order declaring Osama bin Laden to have forsaken Islam by backing attacks such as the Madrid train bombings a year ago.
The Islamic Commission of Spain timed its "fatwa" for Friday to coincide with the first anniversary of last year's attacks, which killed 191 people and were claimed in the name of al Qaeda in Europe.
The commission's secretary general Mansur Escudero said the fatwa had moral, rather than legal weight and would serve as a guide for Muslims.
"We declare ... that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization, responsible for the horrendous crimes against innocent people who were despicably murdered in the March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid, are outside the parameters of Islam," the commission said.
The commission said the Koran barred Muslims from committing crimes against innocent people.
The commission is the top Islamic body in Spain. Its leaders are elected by an assembly and represent the Muslim community in talks with the Spanish government.
Most of the 42 suspects held in connection with the investigation are of Moroccan origin whom investigators say were committed to holy war against the West.
ISLAM DOES NOT JUSTIFY TERRORISM
"The terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization ... which result in the death of civilians, such as women and children ... are totally prohibited and are the object of strong condemnation within Islam," it said in a statement citing extensively from religious texts.
The commission issued its fatwa as Spaniards paid tribute to the passengers killed on four Madrid commuter trains a year ago.
At Madrid's main mosque, worshippers observed a minute's silence before Friday prayers, and Morocco's King Mohammed attended a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the victims.
At least half a million Muslims live in Spain and many have felt increased isolation as a result of the March 11 bombings.
"After March 11, all Muslims have become suspect," Mohammed El Afifi, a spokesman for Madrid's biggest mosque, said recently.
Escudero told Reuters by telephone: "Any group that invokes Islam to justify terrorist attacks places itself outside of Islam."
Bin Laden's claim to recover al Andalus -- the Arabic term for Spain during the nearly 800 years parts of the country were under Moorish rule -- "totally contradict God's will," the commission said.
It sure would be nice to see other Western Muslim organizations make this same sort of declaration, instead of constantly trying to play all the sides, saying "we are opposed to this" but then qualifying it with "insert other bad thing the West has done". It seems shameful to me that it took this long. And sadly, it is things like the fact this is still so rare which explain why many people still have suspicions towards Muslims in general in the West.
One thing I have found interesting so far and will be actively following is that none of the English or arabic language newspapers I read on a regular basis have reported this yet. Other news that has happened today has been reported, but not this Fatwa, a rarely used edict.
We've got a collective thumbs down verdict at our office for this one. But we're all a bunch of snobby New York humor jockeys anyway. Personally, I think it's good to have a voice of dissent out there, no matter who's in charge.