Indonesia’s top Islamic body yesterday condemned the sea burial of Osama bin Laden, as radicals promised a day of mass prayer to mourn the al-Qaeda leader’s death at the hands of US special forces.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s office issued a statement which neither applauded nor condemned the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist and alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US.
“The president said Indonesia has a common spirit with other nations in fighting against terrorism,” spokesman Julian Pasha said in the first official Indonesian reaction to the news.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and has been hit by multiple terror attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people, mainly Western tourists.
Its US-backed counterterrorism force has killed and arrested scores of Islamist militants since Sept. 11, including leaders of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional network, which has links to al-Qaeda.
Reflecting local sensitivities, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic body, slammed the US decision to bury bin Laden at sea.
“A Muslim, whatever his profession, even a criminal, their rites must be respected. There must be a prayer and the body should be wrapped in white cloth, before being buried in the earth, not at sea,” MUI chief Amidhan said.
Other Muslim leaders have also condemned the method of burial.
Mahmud Azab, an adviser to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the top Sunni Muslim authority in Cairo, said: “If it is true that the body was thrown into the sea, then Islam is totally against that.”
“Any corpse, if it belongs to someone murdered or someone who died of natural causes, must be respected,” he said, adding that Islam can only accept burials at sea if they are inevitable, such as in a case of drowning.
A source close to the head of the Grand Mosque in Paris said a burial at sea “is totally against the sacrosanct rules of Islam.”