Muslim clerics have claimed that Hurricane Sandy, which hit the United States this week, was a divine punishment for a film mocking the prophet Mohammed.
In Egypt, radical cleric Wagdi Ghoneim described the hurricane as revenge from Allah for the “Innocence of Muslims” film made that sparked waves of violent protests across the Muslim world in September.
"Some people wonder about the hurricane in America and its causes," Ghoneim wrote on Twitter. "In my opinion, this is revenge by the Lord [Allah] for [harming] his beloved Mustafa [another name for the Prophet Muhammad]...," he added, alluding to the film.
Ghoneim's remarks were translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
A Twitter response to Ghoneim compared Hurricane Sandy to a divine wind sent to destroy a sinful nation and strike at the seat of the United Nations in New York.
"We ask G-d to destroy the UN building for its injustice, corruption, tyranny ... with Sandy," said the response.
Prominent Saudi Arabian cleric Salman al-Audah said the storm, which killed more than 140 people, was a wake-up call for Americans to convert to Islam.
"To all those who pray that Hurricane Sandy will bring disaster, I quote the words of the Prophet [Muhammad about] the idolaters in Mecca: 'I hope that [Allah] produces from their loins [sons] who worship Him [i.e., who become Muslims],'" he wrote, according to MEMRI.
Another Saudi cleric, Nasser Al-'Omar, likewise regarded the storm as divine punishment, and even issued a fatwa stating that the Muslims must be glad and thank Allah for it.
"We must rejoice at anything that harms these arrogant and tyrannical oppressors," MEMRI quoted him as having said. "America is the spearhead of oppression, evil and tyranny in the present age. It has used its wealth, which Allah the Almighty bestowed upon it, to oppress mankind throughout the world. America's history is black, in every respect and in all parts of the globe, especially when it comes to [its treatment of] the Muslim nation. For America is an infidel and tyrannical nation that is hostile to Allah and His Messenger, and fights the Muslims. It has defiled and degraded Allah's Book [the Koran]. It is close to all that is evil and distant from all that is good, and defends terrorism in the world. Who supports Israel? Who endlessly defends the Jews? Who destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq? Who takes the wealth of the Muslims worldwide and repays them with missiles, bombs and nuclear warheads? America and its agents are [also] the ones who supervise the most oppressive and deadly prisons, such as Guantanamo. The list of its crimes around the world is endless, and nobody can compete with it... America's might [is used to promote] civil war, deception, evil, tyranny, and straying from the straight and narrow.
"So why should we not rejoice when it suffers harm?" he continued. "Should we not be glad that Allah has heeded the prayers of the weak and oppressed around the world? Should we not be glad, when [the storm is clearly] a punishment from Allah for their crimes...? Some Muslims say [that] we should feel sorry about what has happened [in America]! This is a mistake [which indicates their] ignorance of the religious texts... When we see these strong winds destroying some of the states in America, we know it is a boon from Allah, for which we should be grateful and glad... In sum, we may rejoice over what has harmed America, for that is the reasoning of the Koran and the way of the prophets..."
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, however, condemned the gloating in the tweets as “illegitimate.”
Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh told the Al-Hayat newspaper that gloating over "these people who were hit by storm Sandy is inappropriate,” adding that such behavior is “illegitimate” and “must be abandoned.”
Al Qaeda's cell in Somalia on Wednesday said Hurricane Sandy was Allah's punishment for America's “disbelief” and “crimes against Islam”.
In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, Al Shabaab urged people in the United States to convert to Islam "before it's too late."
“Allah imposes disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes & volcanic eruptions so as to punish the Kuffar [infidels] who have rejected the call of Islam,” al Shabaab said in its first tweet.
“The path of destruction carved by hurricane Sandy in the US is just a tiny fragment of the punishment warranted by their heinous atrocities,” the group continued. “Destroying everything by the command of Allah, these punishing winds serve as a just recompense for their disbelief and crimes against Islam. It is the answer to the prayers of the oppressed Muslims accross (sic) the globe and a response to the silent whispers of the Muslim prisoners.”