RIYADH  - 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 holy month of Ramazan.
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 the Levant (ISIL). The powerful militant group has spearheaded an offensive by the militants in Iraq since June 9, wresting control of northern cities and capturing vast swathes of territory.
ISIL 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 Gulf kingdom shares an 814-kilometre (505-mile) border with Iraq.
“We will not allow a handful of terrorists, using Islam for personal aims, to terrify Muslims or undermine our country and its inhabitants,” Abdullah said. “We are continuing, with God’s help, to face and tackle this scourge,” he said.
The Saudi monarch also wished Muslims “security, prosperity and stability” over Ramazan, which began in most countries on Sunday.