The head of Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, al-Azhar, condemned US troops' disposal of the body of Osama bin Laden at sea as an affront to religious and human values.
Muslims set great store by interment in permanent graves on land and accept burial at sea only in cases where the body cannot be preserved intact aboard ship until it reaches shore.
"The Grand Imam, Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, the sheikh of Al-Azhar condemned the reports, if true, of the throwing of the body of Osama bin Laden into the sea," according to a statement released by al-Azhar, which is respected around the world by many Sunni Muslims as a seat of religious learning.
The procedure "contradicts all the religious values and human norms", it said: "The Grand Imam asserted that it is forbidden in Islam to deform the dead, regardless of their beliefs. One honours the dead by burying them."
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