Jordan will prosecute Islamists disseminating militant ideology, the religious affairs minister revealed Tuesday, signaling tightened measures against Muslim fanatics in the wake of last month's triple Amman hotel blasts. Abdul-Fatah Salah said Islamic activists, including clerics, who pronounce others as infidels or issue fatwas religious edicts without state permission will be prosecuted. "We will not tolerate anybody to declare himself a religious figure, issue fatwas and pronounce others as infidels," he told the official Petra news agency, underlining government intention to enforce existing regulations that had been largely lax.
"Violators will be referred to justice," he said, without stating a possible punishment. Salah was not immediately available for comment. Calls for religious moderation mounted following the Nov. 9 suicide bombings claimed by al-Qaida in Iraq group, led by Jordanian-born Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi. Sixty-three people, including three Iraqi bombers, were killed and hundreds wounded in Jordan's deadliest terrorist attacks.
Salah, the religious affairs minister, said a plan was being devised to erase Islam's "deformed image," using the principles of the "Amman message," a statement on moderate Islamic values and advocating coexistence with other religions issued last year with Abdullah's support.
He did not disclose details, but said Muslim clerics were required to introduce moderate Islamic teachings, focusing on the youth to prevent them from "slipping into ignorance, corruption, isolation and fanaticism."
Jordan was apparently targeted because of its pro-Western outlook, embrace of moderate Islam and location in a precarious corner of the volatile Mideast, squeezed between two hot spots: Iraq and Israel, reports the AP. N.U.