By Brian Murphy
*THE ASSOCIATED PRESS *
CAIRO, Egypt - The e-mail messages from Muslims began moments after the release of a religious edict condemning al-Qaida. They came from every corner of the world. Soon they were tumbling in too fast to handle.
“I couldn’t even read them all. There are at least 1,000. Maybe more,” said Mansur Escudero, secretary-general of the Islamic Commission of Spain. "The tone was nearly all the same: ‘It’s about time someone did it. Bravo!’ "
The fatwa, issued on the anniversary of the Madrid train bombings that claimed 191 lives, was believed to be the first cleric-sanctioned condemnation directly against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. But it highlights a wider, critical dialogue emerging across the Islamic world.
Moderate Muslims are increasingly turning to Islam’s sacred core - the Quran and the laws and traditions it inspires - to defend their views and discredit radicals as part of a “counter-jihad” for Islamic hearts and minds.
Terrorist attacks by al-Qaida and other violent groups add urgency to the ideological debate, which challenges the long dominance of Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist Wahhabist strain that has used its wealth and influence to mute moderate Islamic voices. …