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EGYPT: Islamic leader condemns Osama bin Laden's sea burial

May 2, 2011 |  5:49 pm

The head of Cairo's Al Azhar institution, the most influential seat of Sunni Muslim learning, said that the burial of Osama bin Laden at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition.

The action “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs," Sheik Ahmed Tayeb was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

The customary Muslim practice is to place the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Sea burials are permitted only when death occurs on a ship, and the body cannot be quickly brought to shore, religious scholars said.

U.S. officials said a burial at sea was chosen after Bin Laden was killed in a firefight in Pakistan because no country would accept the remains. They said Muslim tradition was followed, with the body washed, wrapped in a white sheet and buried within 24 hours.

— Alexandra Zavis

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