Al Qaeda members in Iraq will suffer the "horrors of hell" if they kill two Moroccan hostages and the victims will die as martyrs, Morocco's influential Islamic scholars organisation said on Saturday.
On Thursday, al Qaeda said it had put the two Moroccan embassy employees on trial and sentenced them to death because of Morocco's support for the US-backed Baghdad government. The two men were seized late last month.
"The two Moroccans would be considered martyrs if this iniquitous verdict were to be carried out as they were carrying out a duty assigned to them by their nation and legitimate state," said the powerful Islamic body which groups thousands of mosque preachers and Islamic scholars and thinkers.
The umbrella organisation, known as the High Council of the Ulema (Islamic scholars) and the Councils of Ulema in the Moroccan Kingdom, called the Iraqi al Qaeda hostage-takers "aggressor apostates".
"Killing the two Moroccan nationals would be considered as the assassination of all Moroccans," it said in a statement, basing its argument on the Koran.
It added that the al Qaeda members who are holding the two men captives "will suffer opprobrium on the land and the horrors of hell in heaven". The al Qaeda group has said its legislative authority decided to kill the two hostages after its "court" had proven that they "are followers of the despots (US) and infidel Moroccan government".
The foreign ministry in Rabat said on Saturday that "the Moroccan embassy in Iraq maintains relations with all political forces and representative tendencies of Iraq."
"Al Qaeda Iraqi branch is attempting shamefully to justify its reprehensible announcement to cowardly execute Abderrahim Boualam and Abdelkrim al Mouhafidi with so-called religious references and false political considerations," the ministry said.
The two statements were part of calls by local media, trade
unions, human rights activists and government officials trying to
save the two men's lives ahead of a planned mass demonstration in
the streets of Casablanca on Sunday.