Saudi mufti brands suicide protests as ‘great sin’


RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim authority branded the act of setting oneself on fire, a protest started in Tunisia and copied in other Arab states, a “great sin,” Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday. Islam “bans suicide even if living conditions are hard. To commit suicide by setting oneself on fire is a horrendous crime,” said Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, quoted in the pan-Arab daily. “To immolate oneself and committing suicide are great sins,” he said.
“This crime must not spread, and Muslims must not resort to such an act which is considered suicide and which tarnishes the image of Muslims,” said Saudi Arabia’s mufti. In December, Mohammed Bouazizi doused himself with fuel and set himself ablaze, in a protest that sparked Tunisia’s uprising. His act of desperation has since been copied in other Arab countries, notably Egypt and Algeria.
Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, said the Muslim religion bans suicide for whatever reason. “Sharia law states that Islam categorically forbids suicide for any reason and does not accept the separation of souls from bodies as an expression of stress, anger or protest,” the institute said.