Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh burned alive
Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh stands in front of armed men in a video released by the jihaidi group. Reuters

The European Union reproached Jordan over the hanging of two jihadi prisoners to avenge the killing of an armed forces pilot by the Islamic State (Isis) group.

The Hashemite kingdom executed failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi and al-Qaeda member Ziad al-Karbouli hours after Isis burned alive Flight Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh and published a slick video glorifying the brutal murder.

After the executions, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Brussels was close to its middle-eastern ally in this moment of mourning but condemned the use of capital punishment as a deterrent.

Mogherini's statement read:

The murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh constitutes the latest illustration of the denial by Da'esh of the most elementary human values and rights. Our thoughts are with the family of Moaz al-Kasasbeh and with the people of Jordan.

We remain determined to mobilise all means at our disposal to fight terrorism, and we are working in these very hours to finalise our set of measures.

While all efforts must be made to counter terrorism and hold the perpetrators accountable, our reaction to the threat posed by Da'esh [as Isis is known in the Arab world] needs to be consistent with our common values on justice and the rights of prisoners; our action has to be guided by the respect of international human rights law and humanitarian law.

The European position against the death penalty remains unchanged and we believe capital punishment does not serve any deterrent purpose.

We are very much aware that Jordan is on the front line in the battle against Da'esh and plays a critical role in contributing to stability in the region.

It is the host country of an impressive number of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Palestine, providing safety and relief for those in grave need.

Jordan is also a valuable partner of the EU and the international community in our common fight against terrorism.

We are determined to pursue our efforts to enhance security and counter-terrorism cooperation between the EU and Jordan, in the framework of our privileged partnership and in line with European principles of respecting human rights.

A complete opposite stance was taken by the Sunni head of Cairo's al-Azhar Mosque, one of Egypt's most revered religious leaders, who called for the killing, crucifixion or mutilation of those who killed al-Kasasbeh.

Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Sheik of the mosque and the head of Sunni Islam's most respected seat of learning, said IS militants deserved the punishment because they were fighting God and his Prophet Mohammed.

Al-Kasasbeh, 26, was captured by Isis in December, as his F-16 crashed near the Islamist stronghold of Raqqa, Syria.

Al-Rishawi, 44, was imprisoned in Jordan after attempting to detonate an explosives belt as part of the devastating 2005 hotel bombings in the capital city of Amman.

Isis had demanded her freedom in exchange for the pilot's life and the release of a Japanese jorunalist who was later eventually beheaded by the group.