Agence France Presse (AFP)
May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Khalid Mash'al, head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on Thursday criticized the method used by US special forces to kill Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his "burial at sea."

Mash'al called on the West to "recognize the atrocity of the American raid and the burial of (bin Laden's body) at sea," in remarks to AFP in the Egyptian capital.

"Arabs and Muslims are human beings and the West should treat them as such, regardless of whether they are partisans or opponents of Osama bin Laden."

Soon after bin Laden's death was announced early Monday, Hamas's government chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said: "We condemn any killing of a holy warrior or of a Muslim and Arab person, and we ask God to bestow his mercy upon him."

That drew a sharp reaction from the United States, with State Department spokesman Mark Toner calling Haniya's remarks "outrageous."

"Bin Laden was a murderer and terrorist," said Toner, whose administration has said the Saudi-born Islamist militant was buried at sea to ensure his final resting place was not turned into a shrine for extremists.

Senior clerics in Egypt have also said the method violated Islamic rites.

"Islam does not accept burial at sea, only on land," said Mahmoud Azar, adviser to Ahmed Al-Tayeb who heads the most prestigious institution in Sunni Islam, Cairo's Al-Azhar.

The rule "applies whether the person is assassinated or dies of natural causes," he said.


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