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Second Scholar Renounces Fatwas Promoting Violence

November 23, 2003|From Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A second prominent Saudi religious leader has renounced militancy and attacks against innocent people during an interview aired on state-run TV Saturday.

Nasser Fahd made his remarks four days after Ali Khudair also reversed his fatwas -- or religious edicts -- promoting violence.

The statements came as Saudi authorities cracked down on militants believed responsible for a string of attacks in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Al Qaeda terrorist network leader Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Saudi authorities arrested Fahd, Khudair and another scholar, Ahmad bin Humud Khaldi in May. All three were held during an anti-terrorism sweep after attacks here in the capital killed 35 people.

The three religious leaders were charged with advocating violence in sermons in mosques and on the Internet. No dates for their trials have been set.

"The solution is not in bearing arms," Fahd said in an interview aired Saturday. "There is no good in violence," he added, appearing relaxed. "Why should innocent people pay the price?"

Referring to the Nov. 8 bombings in Riyadh that killed 20 people, mainly Arabs and other Muslims, Fahd said: "We never imagined that things would go this far."

In May, Saudi authorities launched a public campaign against extremist thought. The TV appearances by Fahd and Khudair are seen as part of that.

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