Syrians hold funeral for slain cleric

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DAMASCUS: Syrians have held a funeral procession for the prominent Sunni cleric Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti who was killed in the suicide attack on a mosque in Damascus.

On Saturday, Syrian mourners carried the coffin of al-Bouti and his grandson into historic Umayad mosque in the capital for funeral prayers before burying them in a cemetery next to legendary Arab hero Salahuddin. 

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi and Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Addien Hasoun were also among the participants. 

On March 21, over 40 people were killed and more than 80 others injured when a terrorist blew himself up inside al-Iman Mosque in Damascus, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported. 

The attack was carried out while Sheikh Bouti was giving a religious speech to a group of students, including his grandson, SANA said. 

Following the deadly incident, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad condemned the act of violence, pledging that the assault would not pass without punishment. 

“A promise from the Syrian people — and I am one of them — that your blood, your grandson and the martyrs of today and all the homeland will not go in vain, because we will stay following your thinking to eliminate their darkness,” Assad said.

Bouti, 84, was a retired dean and a professor at the College of Islamic Law at Damascus University. He was known for his anti-terrorism stances and criticism of foreign-backed militant groups, whom he describes as “mercenaries.” 

Last week, the late scholar said during his lecture, “We are invaded in every inch of our land, in our bread, in our lives, women, children sanctities and honor.” 

“We are today in front of a legitimate duty…which is the need for mobilization to protect the values, the homeland and the holy sites, and there is no difference, in this case, between the army and the rest of this nation,” Bouti stated. 

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