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Muslim scholars disavow Sahara statements by senior colleague

The Secretary-General of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) Ali Al-Qaradaghi in the Qatari capital Doha on December 1, 2017 [KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images]
The Secretary-General of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) Ali Al-Qaradaghi in the Qatari capital Doha on December 1, 2017 [KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images]

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has disavowed a statement by its president, Ahmad Al-Raysuni, about the Western Sahara and the crisis between Algeria and Morocco. According to the union, his statements represent his opinion only.

The Secretary-General of the Union, Ali Al-Qaradaghi, made this clear in a media statement in response to Al-Raysuni's interview on Blanca TV, in which he called for "jihad and an advance towards the border city of Tindouf in the Sahara region." Al-Raysuni and members of the General Secretariat were consulted about the IUMS statement.

The union confirmed that its constitution stipulates that opinions that it issues must be agreed upon and signed by the president and the secretary-general after due discussion. "Based on this principle," explained Al-Qaradaghi, "interviews or articles by office bearers express their personal opinions, not necessarily the consensus of the IUMS. While Al-Raysuni has the right to express his personal opinion with full respect and appreciation for him and others, it is not the opinion of the union."

The IUMS stands with the Islamic nation to advance it as an "honest advisor" to all Islamic countries and peoples. "The IUMS only wants what is good for its nation, peace and comprehensive reconciliation, and the resolution of all disputes and problems through constructive dialogue and sincere cooperation."

Algeria: The largest Islamic party is 'ready' to contribute to ending the crisis with Morocco

Al-Raysuni said in the interview that he believes that Western Sahara and Mauritania belong to the Kingdom of Morocco. He spoke of Moroccan officials relying on normalisation with Israel instead of the Moroccan people in the Western Sahara issue. He affirmed the Moroccan people's readiness for jihad and to carry out a new advance such as the "Green March" if the Moroccan king requests it, to go not only towards Laayoune but also towards Algeria's Tindouf.

The dispute over Western Sahara began in 1975 after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which lasted until 1991, when a ceasefire was agreed.

The Polisario Front unilaterally announced the establishment of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in 1976, which was partially recognised by some countries, but it is not a member of the UN. The recognition of the SADR by the African Union in 1984 led to the withdrawal of Morocco from the organisation.

While Morocco insists on its right to the region and proposes a degree of expanded autonomy under its sovereignty as a solution to the issue, the Polisario Front demands a referendum to determine the fate of the region. This proposal is supported by Algeria, which shelters people displaced from the Western Sahara.

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