DAMASCUS — Some extremist Sunni clerics help foment sectarian violence in Syria, one indication of how a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government became a civil war. Both sides use religion to justify their grab for power.
Egyptian Imam Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa (religious decree) in June telling Sunni Muslims everywhere to fight against the Syrian government and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia that supports Assad.
“Every Muslim trained to fight and capable of doing that [must] make himself available,” he said at a rally in Qatar where he lives. Qaradawi, an influential cleric, has an estimated 60 million viewers for his Al Jazeera TV show.
Global Post’s Reese Erlich reports on ultra-conservative Muslims and the debate over the appropriate role of violence amid Syria’s civil war. His report is part of the Special Report “In the Land of Cain and Abel — An ancient Sunni/Shia rift shaping a modern Middle East,” which was funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.