A Muslim religious leader in Spain is calling upon fellow travelers of Islam who serve in the military to refuse service on missions to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. Imam Mohamed Said Alilech, a well-known expert on Muslim law said in an August 31 television interview directed at the Spanish Muslim community that Muslims serving in Spain’s armed forces should cite conscientious objection and thus refuse to serve in regions where they might come into conflict with fellow Muslims. He also expressed objections to the use of Christian symbols on Spanish military uniforms.
Said Alilech is said to be one of the leading experts on Muslim sharia law. He also serves as the imam (prayer leader) of a mosque in Fuenlabrada – the fourth largest city in Spain. He advised Muslims to refuse to serve in what he called “unjust war against their Muslim brethren.”
Said Alilech explained that to engage in a mutiny, they should not only “inform themselves” and “demand their rights.” In cases where an order may contradict Muslim teachings, said Said Alilech, Muslim soldiers can also recur to what he called “positive objection” and so be absolved of contradicting their religion.
Muslims serving in Spanish armed forces are regulated by an agreement reached in 1992 between the Spanish state and the Islamic Commission of Spain during the Socialist government of Prime Minister Felipe González. The agreement specified Muslim religious rights, special food, and other situations which may affect Muslims in the ranks.
Said Alilech expressed objections to the use of Christian symbols on military uniforms. He referred to objections raised by Muslim troops who refuse to pray in uniforms displaying symbols such as crosses and crucifixes. The religious leader told Muslim soldiers that they should refer their objections to their superior officers.
Said Alilech spoke on a program entitled “Consultas Islámicas” and televised by Córdoba TV on which aspects of Muslim religious law are discussed. On its webpage, the program is described thus: “Consultas Islámicas is not a program that seeks to issue fatwas (ed. Note: religious declarations that may include the death penalty for those leaving Islam). It merely transmits what the most learned experts in the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence say while also explaining concepts and precepts to its television audience.”
Another guest on the show was Taoufik Cheddadi, an imam who was arrested in 2007 following accusations that he had been seeking recruits for Islamic terror.
Concern in the armed forces
According to El Confidencial, a Spanish newspaper, some military authorities are increasingly worried about statements emanating from Muslim religious authorities. The Spanish intelligence community is watching very carefully for any links between Muslims in the armed forces and Muslim terrorists recently arrested in Spain’s colonies in Africa: Ceuta and Melilla. Both of the colonies are on the shore of North Africa and are under constant assaults by mostly-Muslim migrants who scramble over thirty-foot razor-wire fences or enter via the sea.
Spain currently has 580 peacekeepers in Lebanon and 122 in Mali and the Central African Republic. In addition, Spain has 42 troops in Iraq and 300 in Afghanistan that are part of the NATO effort there.