A leading Egyptian Islamic leader has warned that a "volcano of anger" will explode in response to US-led military action in Najaf and Falluja.

AL JAZEERA

August 22, 2004

In a statement on Saturday, Ali Gumaa, the mufti of Egypt and the country's highest authority on Islamic law, condemned the "continuing aggression by US-led forces on the Imam Ali shrine and Islamic holy places" in Iraq.

"After the attack on the shrines of the Prophet's noble companions, after the humiliations and the terrorizing and killing of civilians, the world cannot expectthat a volcano of anger and indignation will not explode," Gumaa said.

Gumaa is second in the Islamic hierarchy only to the shaikh of al-Azhar, Cairo's ancient university and institute of religious learning.

"The Dar al-Ifta wonders why the world is seeking the reasons for terrorism, hatred of others and the clash of civilizations," he said.

Gumaa, however, appealed for restraint "so that events do not slip out of control and the situation does not deteriorate into an unjustified sea of blood, since regret would then be futile".