Friday, April 15, 2011

Ma'an: "Salafi leader: Islam prohibits murder"

Interesting damage control, along with some useful recap of the ongoing Gaza Salafist saga. I think all large concentrations of Muslims include some Salafis.
Salafi leader Iyad Ash-Shami said Friday that Salafi groups were not involved in the murder of an Italian activist in the Gaza Strip.

The killing of Vittorio Arrigoni "had nothing to do with Islam," he said, adding that Salafi groups and scholars all agreed that the killing of any man was prohibited.

The body of Vittorio Arrigoni was found hanged in a home northwest of Gaza City early Friday morning, hours after the International Solidarity Movement activist was kidnapped in the coastal enclave.

Salafi radicals were suspected of kidnapping Arrigoni, last seen alive in a video posted online Thursday.

The kidnappers identified themselves in the video as belonging to a previously unknown group called The Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammed bin Muslima.

They threatened to kill Arrigoni unless Hamas released Salafist prisoners by Friday evening. Before the deadline passed, however, Hamas said his body was found.

Ash-Shami said "any government or state anywhere in the world" could have made the video, but said Salafi factions in Gaza would meet Friday to decide how to respond to the killing.

Earlier Friday, Salafi faction At-Tawheed wa Al-Jihad denied involvement in the abduction and murder of Arrigoni, but said it was "a natural outcome of the policy of the government carried out against the Salafi."

The Hamas-run government in Gaza has in recent years taken a hard line against Salafists in Gaza, whose religious observances and refusal to comply with ceasefires with Israel has led to confrontations.

Hamas severed ties with Salafist faction the Army of Islam in 2007 after the group claimed responsibility for kidnapping BBC reporter Alan Johnson.

Hamas helped to secure the journalist's release after four months in captivity.

In August 2009, Salafist faction Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Partisans of God) announced the creation of an Islamist "emirate" in Gaza, during a sermon at a mosque in the southern city of Rafah.

That prompted a furious response from Hamas, whose forces stormed the mosque, prompting clashes which left 24 people dead.
I think Hamas released all the Salafist prisoners generated by the incident shortly after it was over (for Eid), but I can't find a link at the moment.

Update: Here is the link I wanted: Ma'an: "Charges dropped against Gaza Salafi group." Actually, this is worth quoting:
The de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh instructed the Gaza Ministry of Interior and security forces throw out the charges on activists with Jund Ansar Allah, the Salafi group involved in an August take-over of a Rafah mosque. [...]

On Saturday Haniyeh ordered the four-month-old file to be destroyed for the sake of Palestinian unity.

The statement announcing the policy shift came following the de facto prime ministers visit to a Gaza prison where the ultra-Islamist members were being held. He said the move showed the keenness of his government to respect the national rights of the people of Palestine and respect commitment to Islamic values.
That's always the most important thing.

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