CAIRO Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni learning, al-Azhar, said on Tuesday the dead should be respected and buried, a clear criticism of how ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's body was put on show and left to rot for days after his killing.
The statement by al-Azhar, published by Egypt's official news agency, did not mention Gaddafi. But it clearly referred to him by saying it was responding to "the many questions" related to the mistreatment of the dead and other violent actions, including acts by "tyrannical regimes", during Arab uprisings.
"We demand that all sides abide by the Islamic position that forbids using violence against peaceful protests but also forbids inhumane treatment of the injured and desecration of dead bodies or keeping them without burial," said The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb.
Gaddafi was buried in a secret location in the desert Tuesday five days after he was captured, killed and put on grisly public display, a move that provoked controversy among Islamic scholars over its religious legality.
Libya's mufti, Sadeq el-Gheriany, said earlier in the week that Gaddafi was not a Muslim and thus people should not hold Islamic funeral rituals or pray for his soul.
"God honoured man dead or alive and set ethics for wars," el-Tayyeb said, calling on all Muslims to respect these ethics and maintain the honor of the dead which are "religious obligations".
(Reporting by Tamim Elyan; editing by David Stamp)