Spanish clerics issue fatwa against bin Laden

Clerics representing the majority of Spain's 1 million Muslims issue fatwa denouncing Osama bin Laden.

Clerics representing the majority of Spain's one million Muslims have issued what they say is the world's first fatwa against Osama bin Laden.

The edict by the Islamic Commission of Spain, which represents about 70 per cent of the approximately 300 mosques in the country, called bin Laden an apostate and asks Muslims to denounce him.

The fatwa came on the eve of Friday's one-year anniversary of the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and injured 1,400.

The commission's secretary general, Mansur Escudero, said the group had consulted with Muslim leaders in other countries, including Morocco, Algeria and Libya, and had their support.

"They agree," Escudero said. "What I want is that they say so publicly."

The fatwa said that "the terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al-Qaeda ... are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam."

"Inasmuch as Osama bin Laden and his organization defend terrorism as legal and try to base it on the Qur'an ... they are committing the crime of 'istihlal' and thus become apostates that should not be considered Muslims or treated as such," it said. "Istihlal" in Arabic refers to making up one's own laws.

Asked by Associated Press if the edict meant Muslims were bound to help authorities capture bin Laden, Escudero said: "We don't get involved in police affairs but we do feel that all Muslims are obliged to ... keep anyone from doing unjustified damage to other people."