Muslims issue fatwa against bin LadenON THE eve of the anniversary of mainland Europe’s bloodiest terrorist attack, the Spanish Islamic Commission issued a fatwa yesterday against Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader.
The commission, a government-backed umbrella group of Islamic associations, made the announcement as Spain prepared to mark the first anniversary today of the Madrid trains massacre with a five-minute silence to remember the victims.
Joining the commemorations in a symbolic act of solidarity, the commission invited Spanish-based imams to condemn terrorism at Friday prayers. It also urged imams to publicise a document designed to “thank the Spanish people and the Government for their attitude towards Muslims” in the past year, in particular for not taking “disproportionate” measures similar to those which the September 11 attacks prompted in the United States.
The entire country is expected to grind to a halt at midday in memory of the 190 commuters who were killed when bombs planted in four trains exploded during the morning rush-hour.
Train services will be suspended during the five-minute silence.
A string of low-key memorial services includes the inauguration by King Juan Carlos of “the forest of the absent” — a plantation of 191 trees in the Retiro Park recalling the victims.
A police officer was killed two weeks after March 11 while attempting to arrest the terrorist cell when seven of its members, mostly Moroccans, blew themselves up. Twenty-two other suspects are being held in prison awaiting trial.
Islamist extremists acting in the name of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, saying that the attack was a consequence of the conservative People’s Party Government’s support for the Iraqi invasion. Three days later the conservatives were voted out of power in a general election and replaced by the socialists, who immediately withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq.
King Mohamed VI of Morocco will attend a memorial Mass in Almudena Cathedral in Madrid to show his solidarity with Spain. The growing Spanish Muslim community will stage silent demonstrations in Lavapies — the Madrid district where some of the bombers lived — and special prayers at the main mosque in the capital. Church bells will ring out across Madrid this morning at the exact moment when the first bombs exploded.
There will also be simultaneous demonstrations at the four places where the victims died, the three stations of Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia, and Tellez Street, a few hundred yards outside Atocha station.
The bombers had seemingly intended to blow up Atocha, Madrid’s busiest station, by trying to co-ordinate the detonation of the bombs as the commuter trains all arrived there.
The victims’ association said that it did not want high-profile ceremonies because most of its members preferred not to be reminded of the moment when they lost their loved ones.
Pilar Manjon, the leader of the association, who has bitterly criticised the main Spanish political parties for using the atrocity for political ends, has travelled to Portugal rather than be in Madrid for the anniversary.
Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General — in Madrid for an international terrorism conference — said that the commemorations were also for “the victims of September 11, 2001, and those of other terrorist attacks in Dar-es-Salaam, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Bali, Istanbul, Riyadh, Casablanca, Baghdad, Bombay, Beslan — indeed, all victims of terrorism everywhere, no matter what their nationality, race or creed.”