The enemies of Muslim nations are trying to spread “chaos and confusion”, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric said during Friday prayers at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in apparent condemnation of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
Speaking to two million Muslims from around the world gathered at Mount Arafat, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh called on fellow Islamic leaders to “hit with an iron hand the enemies of Islam”.
“Your religion is threatened. Your security is threatened,” he said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
“These criminals carry out rapes, bloodshed and looting,” he said, and added that “these vile crimes can be considered terrorism” and their perpetrators have nothing to do with Islam.
“They are tyrants,” he said, and warned of “their deviant ideology”.
The mufti spoke from Nimrah Mosque at Mount Arafat in western Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites.
The comments are the mufti’s latest criticism of IS extremists which have declared a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq, and where they have committed a spate of atrocities including crucifixions and beheadings.
In August, he urged Muslim youth not to be influenced by “calls for jihad… on perverted principles,” and he described Al-Qaeda and IS jihadists as “enemy number one” of Islam.
The kingdom is seeking to deter youths from becoming jihadists after Syria’s conflict attracted hundreds of Saudis.
King Abdullah decreed in February jail terms of up to 20 years for citizens who travel to fight abroad.