Is there no middle ground between suicide and martyrdom?
Algerian immigrants who drown in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Europe should be considered 'martyrs', according to a prominent imam.
According to the local daily, Ennahar, Sheikh Shamsedin Bourubi issued a fatwa, or religious edict, on Monday saying that the Muslim faithful should pray for their souls.
"The immigrants who leave Algeria by sea in a bid to reach Europe and die by drowning in the Mediterannean are 'martyrs' and are not committing suicide," he said.
"So it is legal to conduct funeral prayers for their souls."
The Bourubi's fatwa appears to contradict a preceding fatwa issued by the Algerian ministry of religious affairs.
According to the government body, immigrants who leave the country illegally and die in the ocean are committing suicide and should not be given prayers that are in violation of Islamic doctrine.
The ministry had therefore banned illegal immigration, saying it was against Islam.
But Bourubi disagreed with the government's stance.
"The illegal immigrants that leave by sea face enormous risks and pay enormous sums of money to improve their living conditions," he said.
According to the Algerian theologian, it is important to understand the social motivation that pushes young people to immigrate.
Source: AKI (English)