The murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was justified under Islam because American embassies engage in espionage harmful to Muslims, a prominent Salafi cleric wrote in a fatwa discovered (subscription required) by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
In fact, MEMRI reported, Sheikh Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti wrote on the Salafi-jihadi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad that a violent response is required to "make the infidels think hard before insulting Islam or the Prophet."
His fatwa came in response to reader questions about Stevens' murder at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya last week. Readers wondered if Stevens was an appropriate target since he had nothing to do with the online video, "Innocence of Muslims," that is being used to generate violent protests throughout the region. Another asked why Stevens wasn't considered off-limits as a diplomat.
"When the enemies of Allah act in impudence and cross all red lines, there must be a response that will be on the same level as the event and that will make the infidels think hard before insulting Islam or the Prophet," Al-Shinqiti wrote. "America's embassies and diplomats are no more sanctimonious than the Prophet."
Stevens was no mere messenger, Al-Shinqiti wrote. He was part of a state attacking Islam. And he invoked the "war on Islam" narrative considered especially effective in radicalizing Muslims.
"The war being waged on Islam, such as the fight against jihad (which they call terrorism), and the propagation of the religion of democracy – all this is planned from within these embassies," he wrote.
He named other Muslim leaders who condemned the violence, calling them "defeatist opportunists" and "collaborators and traitors who boast their treason and collaboration with America."