Update: Al-Azhar cleric encourages fighting demonstrators, sparks controversy

A member of Al-Azhar’s fatwa committee has said that fighting participants in anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations planned for 24 August is a religious obligation.

During a seminar late Tuesday at the Diplomats’ Club in Cairo, Sheikh Hashem Islam accused people intending to take part in the anticipated protests of committing “a major treason," and calling them bandits, traitors, disobedient to God, His messenger, the nation and all Muslims. 

“The 24 August protests are a revolution by ratters against democracy and freedom," Islam continued.

Islam said Quranic verses and the Sunnah oblige people to support the leaders they elected over renegades. He said President Mohamed Morsy was elected in direct, fair elections, the transparency of which was attested to by the whole world.

“Resist them; if they fight you, fight back, if they kill you, you are in paradise, if you kill them, there is no blood money,” he said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a co-founder of the Constitution Party, on Wednesday denounced the statements, saying on his Twitter: “If the ilk of such sheikhs are not brought to immediate trial, we will slide into a fascist regime that wears the cloak of religion.”

Former MPs Mohamed Abou Hamed and Mostafa Bakry, as well as media host Tawfiq Okasha have called for protests outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Moqattam and in front of the presidential palace in Heliopolis to demand the fall of Morsy and the end of what they call the Brotherhood’s domination of the state.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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