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article imageProfessional football forbidden in Islam, Egypt cleric states

By Katerina Nikolas     Feb 8, 2012 in World
Alexandria - An Egyptian Salafi cleric has said that the victims of last weeks football violence died in sin as football is forbidden in Islam. He later tempered his remark to clarify only professional football is forbidden under Sharia law.
Prominent spokesman of the Salafi Preaching Movement in Egypt, Sheikh Abdul Moneim al-Shahat, has caused controversy by saying that those who died in last weeks football violence in Port Said were not martyrs. He claimed the 74 victims had died in sin as football is forbidden in Islam.
On Monday evening the right-wing cleric said “football is forbidden by Sharia. It is a game that is foreign to Muslims and derived from the West,” Sheikyermami reported. He stated that the victims were not martyrs as popular sentiment holds, as "Those who went to the match and died did not go for God but for entertainment.” He further opined “entertainment is anything that diverts you from worshipping God.”
Many Egyptians took offence at his remarks. Bikyamasr reported that one young football fan said "If this wasn’t such a sad moment, I think we could all laugh at the man’s statements. I had friends die in the attack. I am from Port Said, and this guy is crazy. I wish he would be quiet.”
Following a less than welcome reception for his remarks, al-Shahat has now backtracked, carefully honing his position. Alarabyia reported he denied his earlier words, saying instead "the victims were subjects of unjust killing, but that not everyone who was unjustly killed is a martyr." He has also chosen to modify his remarks on the subject of sport, now declaring that football as such is not banned by Islam, only professional football. He stressed that money spent on football should instead be spent on Quran reciting competitions.
According to al-Shahat “Only three sports are allowed in Islam: javelin throw, swimming, and horseback riding. Other sports are forbidden.” Yet even in the very heartland of Islam, Saudi Arabia, professional football teams entertain Muslim fans.
Sheikh al-Shahat represents an extreme brand of Salafist Islam, the same tenet shared by the revolutionary leaders in Libya, extremists in Qatar and more famously the Semtex Islam of al-Qaeda. Libyan Salafists have been desecrating Muslim cemeteries they hold as idolatrous. Followers of extreme Salafi have been associated with the rise in violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt, and favour an extreme implementation of Sharia law.
More about sport in Islam, Professional football, Sheikh Abdul Moneim alShahat, Salafist cleric, Sharia law
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