Egypt Opposition Leader Warns Over Death Edict

CAIRO (AP) -

Egypt’s most prominent opposition leader criticized the Islamist government yesterday for its silence over a Muslim cleric’s edict calling for the death of opposition supporters.

Mohamed ElBaradei was responding to well-known ultraconservative cleric Mahmoud Shaaban, who said on a news show last week that the opposition should be punished by death for seeking to bring down a leader who has been elected by the public.

“G-d’s verdict is death,” he said amid a new wave of protests against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The fatwa, or religious edict, followed another one by hard-line cleric Magdi Ghoneim who said: “I publicly incite to kill the thugs, criminals, thieves, and those who burn the country and kill the innocents.”

ElBaradei lamented the edicts in a message posted on an online posting.

“Regime silent as another fatwa gives license to kill opposition in the name of Islam,” he said, adding: “Religion yet again used and abused.”

The edicts caused alarm in Egypt after a Tunisian opposition leader critical of the Islamist-led government there was assassinated on Wednesday.

Tunisia was the first Arab country to witness a mass uprising and Egyptians watch Tunisia for cues on the direction their own country might take.

At the same time, Morsi’s office accused the opposition on Wednesday of benefiting from the recent wave of violence that left more than 70 people dead. Yasser Ali, Morsi’s spokesman, told reporters that the opposition was using the clashes “as a means of political pressure.”