Leaders of South Africa's 400,000 Muslims have asked for permission to send 10,000 Muslims to support Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf war, officials said Tuesday.

The Muslim Council of Theologians of South Africa asked President Frederik de Klerk if it could send the force to Iraq as soon as possible to help Saddam, a spokesman for the president's office said.De Klerk was giving attention to the request, the spokesman said, but noted South Africa had pledged its moral support for the U.S.-led coalition force in the gulf.

"It is unlikely the president would do anything to bring that support into question," the spokesman said.