Morocco's King Mohammed VI has strongly condemned terrorism and said the killing of innocent people and suicide bombings were not permissible in Islam. He also said terrorists were "distorting Islam" and taking advantage of young Muslims—some of those implicated in Europe have been of Moroccan descent—who did not know the real tenets of the religion.
In his address to the nation, in which he pointedly addressed the Moroccan diaspora that numbers about five milion globally, on the occasion of 63rd anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People over the weekend, the monarch urged the people to show forbearance in these times when terrorism is giving Islam a bad name.
Referring to the killing of a priest in France at the hands of Islamic State terrorists, the King said such an act is forbidden in Islam.
"I strongly condemn the killing of innocent people. Killing a priest is forbidden by religion; murdering him inside a church is unforgivable madness, for he is a human being and a religious man even if he is not a Muslim," he said.
He said those who engage in terrorism have strayed from the right path of Islam and are not Muslims.
"Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims. Their only link to Islam is the pretexts they use to justify their crimes and their folly. They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell," the monarch, who has undertaken many political and religious reforms in the North African kingdom with one of the most progressive Islamic societies in the world, said in an address that has got global attention.
King Mohammed VI said the terrorists are misleading Muslim youth by distorting the peaceful values of the religion.
"Terrorists take advantage of some young Muslims—particularly in Europe—and of their ignorance of the Arabic language and of true Islam, to spread their distorted messages and misleading promises."
"They think out of ignorance that they are engaging in jihad. Since when has jihad been synonymous with killing innocent people? The Almighty says, 'Do not transgress limits, for Allah loves not transgressors'," he said.
"It is forbidden to kill people under the pretext of jihad."
Taking a swipe at convoluted ideas on the reward for jihad, the King wondered: "How could anyone of sound mind believe that the reward for jihad is a number of virgins? How could one possibly accept that anyone who listens to music will be swallowed by the depths of the earth, and other such lies?"
The King called upon people across the religious spectrum to unite against the scourge of terrorism and counter hatred.
"As ignorance spreads in the name of religion, Muslims, Christians and Jews have to close ranks in order to tackle all forms of extremism, hatred and reclusiveness," he said.
Hailing his country's policy on migrants, the King said that Morocco believes in humanitarian values and safeguarded the rights of migrants to live in dignity. Morocco's policy ensured migrants "do not suffer the same hardships endured in many parts of the world", he said.
The Times of Israel, taking note of the speech, said the Moroccan king always preached a form of tolerant and moderate Islam and has positioned Morocco in Africa and the Muslim world as a key voice in the fight against jihadism. The king regularly calls on his citizens to practice an Islam “of peace” but Saturday was the first time he directly addressed the Moroccan diaspora and said “terrorists who kill in the name of Islam … are condemned to eternal hell,” the paper said.