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Islamic scholar who condemned terrorism: 'I am not afraid'

By Tom Evans, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sheikh Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri issues fatwa against terrorism
  • He says he is working to bridge Muslim, Western worlds
  • Ul-Qadri says he hopes his message will reach youth
RELATED TOPICS
  • Terrorism
  • Islam
  • Religion

(CNN) -- The Islamic scholar who issued a powerful fatwa, or religious ruling, against terrorism and suicide bombers said Thursday that he was not afraid of reprisals from his enemies and did not fear for his life.

"I am not afraid of any human being on the surface of Earth," Sheikh Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"I am working ... to bridge up the Muslim world and the Western world, to remove the hatreds, to remove all misunderstandings."

"So this is a good cause. I am not afraid of anybody. It depends upon whatever my Lord wants. If I have to live, I will live. Otherwise, I am not afraid."

Ul-Qadri was speaking to CNN just over a week after he issued a 600-page fatwa in London denouncing terrorists as "the biggest enemies of Islam."

In his fatwa, ul-Qadri also said suicide bombers are destined for hell and strongly criticized Islamic extremists who cite Islam to justify violence.

"Terrorism and violence cannot be considered to be permissible in Islam on the basis of any excuse," he said.

"Any good intention or any mistake of foreign policy of any country or any pretext cannot legalize the act of terrorism."

Ul-Qadri told Amanpour he does not believe his message will reach the small number of radicals who have already been brainwashed. But he said hundreds of thousands of youths who are on the path, or have the potential to be radicalized, will listen to his fatwa.

Amanpour on Thursday also spoke to a Palestinian lawyer and an Israeli author whose lives are linked by tragedy and who are also trying to spread a message of peace. It was their first joint international television interview.

The Palestinian, Elias Khoury, lost his 20-year-old son, George, six years ago when he was killed by an Arab gunman who mistook him for a Jew. Khoury's father was also killed in a Palestinian attack, in 1975.

To honor his son, Khoury commissioned an Arabic translation of one of Israel's most famous novels, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," written by prize-winning author Amos Oz.

"I was deeply moved by Mr. Khoury's generous proposal to translate (the book) into Arabic at his expense," Oz said. "And I thought it's a very powerful way to commemorate George Khoury, the slain son."

" 'A Tale of Love and Darkness' can open many hearts in the Arab world and can remove many prevailing stereotypes," he added.

Oz explained the book is about the 1940s in Jewish Palestine and the 1950s in early Israel.

"It renders the story of the Jews in a non-heroic way and in a way that is always attentive to the Palestinian plight and to the Palestinian perspective."

He said he believes any Arab who reads his book will find it more difficult to hate the Jews than before.

Khoury told Amanpour it is vital to know the other side, in order to build bridges between the two nations.

He said he was impressed by the story of Israel. "Their feeling of belonging to the group, to the Jewish nation, and the way they were ready to sacrifice."

"I want my people to see how we can do that, how they were well-organized, and how the institutions did work at that time, and how it came to the final step, when the state of Israel was born."

Oz predicted that one day there will be a Palestinian embassy in Israel and an Israeli embassy in Palestine -- within walking distance of each other in a shared capital, Jerusalem.

It is a prediction that few believe will become a reality any time soon, despite U.S. efforts to kickstart indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a sign of how difficult the peace process is, the Israeli government this week approved the construction of another 1,600 homes on disputed land in Jerusalem.

The Israeli government apologized for the timing of the announcement, which came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel and the West Bank in a bid to broker new peace talks.

 
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