For reasons of religion or politics, advocates of political Islam and influential religious figures in south-west Asia are voicing their hostility towards the United States in the aftermath of the killing in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda chief.

In Cairo, head of al-Azhar, a well-established seat of Islamic learning with considerable influence among Sunni Muslims, called the disposal of the body of Osama bin Laden at sea by American troops an affront to religious and human values. A statement by al-Azhar said its Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, “condemned the reports, if true, of the throwing of the body of Osama bin Laden into the sea”. The statement added the procedure followed by the Americans “contradicts all the religious values and human norms”.

The statement by the head of al-Azhar coincided with a scathing attack on the Obama presidency by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The group stressed it is “against assassination and supports a fair trial for any criminal, regardless of the crimes he committed”. It added that resistance to foreign occupation by any country is a “legitimate right” sanctioned by all religious rules and international agreements. The Islamist group, which has emerged as a legitimate political player in Egypt, urged the U.S., NATO and the EU to end their occupations in the region and asked them to “stop interfering in the business of Arab and Muslim countries”.

Citing the death of bin Laden, Iran has also joined the call for the permanent exit of American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said the “campaign against terrorism which served as a pretext for the alien countries to invade the region has now vanished”. He added the U.S. military operation that targeted bin Laden showed that confrontation against one individual does not require the deployment of foreign legions.

Concurring with the Iranian perception that the region should be left alone, Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a former Prime Minister of Afghanistan, told al Jazeera that with the al-Qaeda chief's death, the Americans had “no excuse to leave their soldiers in Afghanistan any more”.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, said instead of the Afghan countryside, the Americans should target actual terror sanctuaries outside his country's borders. “Osama was not in Afghanistan: they found him in Pakistan,” said Mr. Karzai. “The war on terror is not in Afghan villages…but in the safe havens of terrorism outside Afghanistan.”

More In: International | News