Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz delivering the annual Haj sermon
JEDDAH â€“ Saudi Arabiaâ€™s Grand Mufti has condemned Nigeriaâ€™s Boko Haram as a group â€œset up to smear the image of Islamâ€ and condemned its kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls. Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh said the group was â€œmisguidedâ€ and should be â€œshown their wrong path and be made to reject it.â€
His remarks came as religious leaders in the Muslim world denounced Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
â€œThis is a group that has been set up to smear the image of Islam and must be offered advice, shown their wrong path and be made to reject it,â€ he told the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat in an interview.
â€œThese groups are not on the right path because Islam is against kidnapping, killing and aggression,â€ he said. â€œMarrying kidnapped girls is not permitted.â€
Boko Haram kidnapped some 250 girls on April 14 from a secondary school in Chibok village, near the Cameroon border, while they took exams. Fifty have since escaped. Shekauâ€™s video was released on Monday, sparking a wave of revulsion in Nigeria and abroad and prompting offers of help from countries such as the United States, Britain and France to search for them.
On Thursday, scholars and human rights officials of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation denounced the kidnapping as â€œa gross misinterpretation of Islamâ€. This week, Al-Azhar also said that the kidnapping â€œhas nothing to do with the tolerant and noble teachings of Islam.â€