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June 6, 2005
Afghani Clerics Strip Mullah Omar Of Authority

In the Muslim world, as opposed to Catholocism and some Protestant sects, the lack of a central authority for reference and authentication has made it difficult to declare clerics as radical or extreme. Clerics attract their own followings, and have the authority to make their own proclamations, and even the opposition of a number of other clerics doesn't necessarily negate the actions of the single cleric.

However, when hundreds of clerics band together to make a declaration, it does carry some weight. That's exactly what has happened in Afghanistan, where 600 Muslim clerics announced that Mullah Omar has been stripped of all spiritual authority, with another 400 signatories from other regions:

A crowd of 600 Afghan clerics gathered in front of an historic mosque yesterday to strip the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar of his claim to religious authority, in a ceremony that provided a significant boost to the presidency of Hamid Karzai.

The declaration, signed by 1,000 clerics from across the country, is an endorsement of the US-backed programme of reconciliation with more moderate elements of the Taliban movement that Karzai has been pursuing ahead of the country's first parliamentary elections, due in September.

Symbolically, the ulema shura, or council of clerics, was held at the Blue Mosque in the southern city of Kandahar, the spiritual home of the Taliban movement.

At the same venue in 1996 the Taliban leader held up a cloak said to belong to the Prophet Mohammed, which is kept in a shrine in the mosque. He was proclaimed Amir ul-Mumineen or Leader of Muslims by the same clerical body, one of the few occasions the title has been granted anywhere in the Islamic world in the modern era.

Well, easy come, easy go, I suppose.

Not all of the news had to do with Omar, although that certainly was the highlight for the delighted Hamid Karzai administration. The proclamation explicitly called for obedience to Karzai's administration and said that any edict from previous Emirs, including Omar, were no longer valid. They also proclaimed that drug production and use were forbidden, as well as "sexual films," which appears to limit the market for Cinemax in Afghanistan. More ominously, they also insisted on womens' rights -- within the confines of shari'a law.

Michael Isikoff might want to stay out of Kabul as well. One of the proclamations specifically called for the arrest of all the Newsweek staff responsible for the false report of Gitmo guards desecrating the Qu'ran. Apparently the media push to circle the wagons around Isikoff and Newsweek by screeching about Guantanamo hasn't even fooled the Afghanis. (via Arthur Chrenkoff)

Addendum: I do think this is good news, but it's hard for me to take this too seriously. It seems like these clerics appear a little too eager to please whoever holds power in Afghanistan. If it appears that way to me on the other side of the world, imagine what it feels like to the informed Afghani, whose head has to be spinning. On one day, Omar is the Light of the World according to this council, and nine years later, he's yesterday's news. The Newsweek proclamation looks like the same thing to me.

Still, I'd rather have a thousand clerics proclaiming Omar's vices than his virtues at Friday prayers.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 6, 2005 5:57 AM

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» Clerics strip Omar from Don Singleton
This is good news, particularly the additional items Arthur Chrenkoff provided. [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2005 10:38 AM

» Mullah No Ms! from Mark in Mexico
The really bad news is that the clerics also demanded that women's rights must remain within Sharia law, which is to say that they (women) will continue to enjoy no rights at all. Sigh. [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2005 11:28 AM

» Mullah Omar's La-La Land from Mark A. Kilmer
I first heard of Mullah Omar from Paul Harvey in 1996, when the radio commentator referred to the curious new religious kook in Afghanistan as, "High Priest Omar." He next hit the radar when he destroyed the priceless Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001. But i... [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2005 11:33 AM

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