Gaza imam: Vote for Hamas or you’re a heretic

Cleric says only way to atone for wrong choice in upcoming Palestinian municipal elections is pilgrimage to Mecca

Dov Lieber is a former Times of Israel Arab affairs correspondent.

Hamas MP and imam Dr. Yunis Al Astal (screen capture: YouTube)
Hamas MP and imam Dr. Yunis Al Astal (screen capture: YouTube)

A Hamas MP and imam issued a ruling Sunday saying Palestinians who do not vote for the Islamist group’s representatives in upcoming elections will become apostates, and will only be forgiven after they each make a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Palestinians are slated to hold municipal elections in the West Bank and in Gaza on October 8. Hamas, the Islamist terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, has indicated that it will participate.

Dr. Yunis Al Astal, who was banned from the UK in 2009 for glorifying terrorism, wrote that anyone who does not vote for Hamas candidates in the upcoming elections “will be a heretical apostate against the religion of God and His laws.”

Al Astal, according to the text of the Fatwa posted on the Palestinian news site al Karama Press, said those who don’t vote Hamas, which is considered a terror organization by Israel and most Western governments, will not be forgiven until they travel to to Mecca and visit the Ka’aba — Islam’s holiest site.

Al Astal has made numerous calls for mass violence against Jews in the past. For example, according to the The Middle East Media Research Institute, the Hamas cleric said in March of 2014: “We must massacre [the Jews]… to prevent them from sowing corruption in the world.”

In May of 2011, during a show on Hamas’s Al Aqsa television channel, Al Astal said the Jews were brought to Palestine for the “great massacre” through which God will “relieve humanity of their evil.”

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