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Middle East Rejects 'Barbaric' Immolation Of Jordanian Pilot

  • RFE/RL

Supporters and family members of Jordanian pilot First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh gather following his reported killing in the Jordanian capital, Amman, late on February 3.

Supporters and family members of Jordanian pilot First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh gather following his reported killing in the Jordanian capital, Amman, late on February 3.

A video that appears to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage by Islamic State (IS) militants has drawn outrage across the Middle East, with religious and political leaders condemning the immolation as "barbaric" and "satanic."

Hours after the release of the video, Jordan executed two Iraqi militants on February 4, vowing a swift and lethal response to the killing of Muath al-Kasasbeh.

Would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi was hanged at dawn along with Ziyad Karboli, an Al-Qaeda operative who was convicted in 2008 of killing a Jordanian.

Rishawi had been on death row for her role in a triple hotel bombing in the Jordanian capital, Amman, that killed dozens of people in 2005.

IS militants had demanded Rishawi be freed in exchange for the release of the Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kasasbeh, who was captured by the militants on December 24 after his plane crashed in Syria near Raqqa.

Safi al-Kasasbeh, the pilot's father, called on the Jordanian government and the U.S.-led coalition that is countering IS militants to "take revenge with even more painful blows to destroy these criminals."

The blood of his son was the blood of the nation, he told reporters, "and the blood of the nation must be avenged."

A government spokesman said on February 4 that Jordan will intensify its efforts with an international coalition fighting IS.

Jordanian King Abdullah returned to Jordan and led crisis talks after cutting short a trip to the United States when the brutal video was released.

Following those crisis talks, in a statement released on February 4 by the royal court, Abdullah said, "The blood of martyr Muath al-Kasasbeh will not be in vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe."​

'Criminal Act' Against Islam

The head of Egypt's Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, expressed "deep anger over the lowly terrorist act" by what it called a "Satanic, terrorist" group.

Ahmed al-Tayeb called for the "killing, crucifixion, and chopping of the limbs of Islamic State terrorists," saying they deserved such punishment because they were in effect fighting God and the Prophet Muhammad.

In the Middle East today, the term crucifixion is often used to refer to the public display of the body of a person who has been put to death, rather than killing by crucifixion.

The secretary-general of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest bloc of Muslim countries, said Kasasbeh's killing "utterly disregards the rights of prisoners Islam has decreed as well as the human moral standards for war and treatment of prisoners."

Iyad Madani also said it was sad to see the "the depth of malaise" in parts of the Middle East, along with the "intellectual decay, the political fragmentation, and the abuse of Islam, the great religion of mercy."

Condemnations also came from Persian Gulf Arab states, which are U.S. allies.

Oman's Foreign Ministry said Kasasbeh's killing "reflects a deep-rooted hatred and organized terrorism against all Muslims."

Qatar, which hosts the regional command center coordinating U.S.-led coalition air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, said the "criminal act" contravenes the "tolerant principles of the Islamic faith, human values, and international laws and norms."

Saudi Arabia said the "barbaric cowardly act" was not sanctioned by the principles of the tolerant Islam set in the Koran.

Abdulmanam Almushawah, head of a Saudi government program combating militant Islamic websites, said that if IS militants "didn't bring something new, people won't pay attention to them. We expect more ugliness in the future."

In regional foe Iran, the Foreign Ministry said the killing of the Jordanian pilot was "inhumane and un-Islamic."

The release of the video has drawn condemnation elsewhere in the world, with U.S. President Barack Obama condemning the "cowardice and depravity" of the IS group.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon labeled the pilot's killing an "appalling act," while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned it as "unforgivable."

IS militants have killed two Japanese hostages in the last two weeks.

With reporting by AP and Bloomberg
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