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Jun. 21 2010 - 1:23 pm | 304 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Jihadists declare World Cup ‘unislamic’, threaten terror attacks

It’s not news that al-Qaeda and related groups have threatened the World Cup.

But it is news that jihadis have found a theological underpinning to their hatred of soccer.

The Jihadica blog reports that the Arab-language Minbar al-Tawhid w’al-Jihad (Pulpit of Monotheism and Jihad) — the internet’s largest jihadist site has posted a fatwa written by one Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi forbidding Muslims from following the World Cup.

The jihadists of Minbar complain that soccer is un-Islamic because the fact that players are paid according to their performance is a form of… you guessed it… gambling. Moreso, soccer takes attention away from the worship of God.

Most surprisingly, al-Maqdisi also opposes soccer because it does not teach any legitimate warfare skills:

No is the answer of Sharia council member Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi. Since the football players are paid according to the number of goals they score, this amounts to a form of gambling, which is forbidden in Islam: “The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said that money rewards in competitions are only allowed under three circumstances: Horse races, camel races and archery, because these are activities that are useful in war”.

Unless all the players are paid evenly, it is forbidden to participate in these football matches, as well as watching them on TV or reading about them in the news. Al-Maqdisi also reminds his readers that the soccer matches encourages loyalty to the sport teams rather than to God, as well as “unnecessary fun” and inattention to the religion.

Yes, we can’t have  ”unnecessary fun.” For good measure, al-Maqdisi also criticizes the fact that women can attend World Cup matches and that female forms show up on television. A full screencap of al-Maqdisi’s fatwa is available here.

It is not known whether Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi is the same as the mysterious Abu Muhammed Asem al-Maqdisi, founder of the Minbar and spiritual mentor to al-Qaeda honcho Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The latter al-Maqdisi is currently in Jordanian government custody while his acolytes continue his website upkeep.

South African and international authorities are vigilantly watching for terror threats in South Africa. Seperate threats to the World Cup have been made by two separate organizations, al-Qaeda in Iraq and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

American neo-Conservative thinktank the American Enterprise Institute recently published a serious policy paper evaluating al-Qaeda threats to the World Cup while much of the Arab street is simply puzzled by why anyone would dislike soccer.


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  1. collapse expand

    Wow, Neal, it’s truly amazing to see how extremists are trying to ruing the party for everyone. As you rightly point out, love of soccer is pervasive in Arab nations. Clearly Al Qaeda is looking to grab attention when the world’s media is focused on one issue.

    Looks like it’s time for the Saudis to step in and issue another “moderate” fatwa. This time, ordering those of the Muslim faith to respect the sport of soccer. WaPo’s David Ignatius wrote on June 13 about the importance of the most recent “moderate” fatwa in changing jihadists’ behavior:

    “The fatwa begins with a clear definition of terrorism, which it calls “a crime aiming at destabilizing security” by attacking people or property, public or private. The document goes on to list examples of this criminal activity: “blowing up of dwellings, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, airplanes (including hijacking), oil and pipelines.” It doesn’t mention any geographical area where such actions might be permissible.

    What’s striking is that the fatwa specifically attacks financing of terrorism. The Muslim religious council said it “regards the financing of such terrorist acts as a form of complicity to those acts … to bring a conduit for sustaining and spreading of such evil acts.”

    The fatwa goes on: “The council rules that the financing of terrorism, the inception, help or attempt to commit a terrorist act of whatever kind or dimension, is forbidden by Islamic Sharia and constitutes a punishable crime thereby; this includes gathering or providing of finance for that end.” The fatwa exempts “legitimate charity to help the poor” from this ban.

    “The financier of terrorism is more often than not more dangerous than the actual terrorist, since without funds, schemes fail and things do not take place,” said Fahd al-Majid, the secretary-general of the Senior Ulema Council, in a May 23 interview with Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based Arabic daily. “

  2. collapse expand

    I read a couple of weeks back where a group of extremist in South Africa said basically that if it is attacked, It’s not us that did it, we don’t have a problem with The World Cup. Covering their asses before hand.

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    A New York-based journalist and blogger who has spent extensive time in the Middle East and is currently working on an MA thesis in Middle Eastern Studies. My thesis focuses on the 2009 Iranian election demonstrations and their coverage in the international media.

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