Egyptian Islamic Jihad mufti supports killing of opposition members

Sheikh Osama Qassem, a prominent Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, has said that violence is an option to defend President Mohamed Morsy, while also supporting a hardline cleric's recent fatwa allowing the assassinations of NSF members.

Qassem said in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm published on Saturday that Islamists would carry weapons to defend Morsy if "saboteurs" continued to attack state establishments.

Qassem is considered the mufti for the once violent Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and spent 25 years in prison after being accused of assassinating the late president Anwar Sadat.

Asked about the latest statement by hardliner cleric Mahmoud Shaaban, Al-Azhar University professor, who had earlier issued a fatwa allowing the killing of NSF leaders, Qassem said that secular figures "deserved" to die.

Qassem added that Sharia allowed the killings, saying that people who protest violently against a ruler were guilty of "Haraba," a Quranic term defined as committing grievous crimes that "sow corruption and chaos on earth." Perpetrators are subject to severe punishment such as amputation and, in some cases, execution.

“The front deserves Haraba punishment,” he added, describing it as a head of sectarianism.

Qassem also criticized Salafi parties' stances against such edicts, accusing them of "revolving within universe of the former president Hosni Mubarak."

“I’m not wondering of the Salafis' standing," he said. "If we remembered some of their stances before the revolution, we will find that they used to revolve within the deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s universe. Some of them used to report [on] people for the sake of the ousted president."

Qassem also said that the organization would return to its former violent ways as a last resort if security forces were "reluctant" to confront opposition members.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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