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Saudi king slams religious extremists as Muslims mark Ramadan

Published on Jun 29, 2014 4:23 PM
 
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud speaks before a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) at his private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on June 27, 2014. Saudi King Abdullah on Sunday sharply criticised religious extremists, vowing not to let "a handful of terrorists...terrify Muslims" in a speech marking the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi King Abdullah on Sunday sharply criticised religious extremists, vowing not to let "a handful of terrorists...terrify Muslims" in a speech marking the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Islam is "religion of unity, fraternity and mutual support" but some people "lured in by false calls... are confusing reform with terrorism", the monarch said, in comments carried by state news agency SPA.

"Their goal is to sow discord among Muslims," he said in an apparent reference to insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The powerful jihadist group has spearheaded an offensive by Sunni militants in Iraq since June 9, wresting control of northern cities and capturing vast swathes of territory.

ISIS operates in both Syria and Iraq and aims to establish an Islamic state straddling the border of those two countries, but their lightning advance in Iraq also poses a threat to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The ultra-conservative Sunni Gulf kingdom - home to Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites - shares an 814-kilometre border with Iraq.

 
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