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Saudi Arabia: Religious Establishment Under Threat - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Kingdom’s religious establishment is under threat with yesterday’s announcement of the arrest of six terror cells, one of which was particularly put together for that sole purpose, thus exposing the contradiction of their deviant ideology.

However, the latest terror cells are not the first in Saudi Arabia to target the kingdom’s religious establishment.

The murder of a judge; Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bin-Muhammad al-Suhaybani, in 2003 by three individuals persons advocating the takfiri ideology indicated that this view has existed for sometime.

From the onset, the terrorists called the Ulema in Saudi Arabia the “sultan’s ulema” in an effort to justify their criminal intentions.

Foremost of all was the fatwa [religious ruling] of Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh in 2001 in which he proscribed the killing of non-Muslims and residents in Muslim countries which followed threats by Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda organization, against the Americans and British residing in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the Saudi mufti’s recent warning to the youths against traveling abroad for the purpose” of jihad in the cause of Allah”, saying suspicious parties were trying to entrap them, pointing out that these (Jihad), “operations that had nothing to do with religion.”

Islamic cleric Sheikh Aed al-Qarni told Asharq al-Awsat that the “takfiri ideology is fissionable [inshitari] that multiplies like cancerous cells in the body. If it calls the regime infidel, then it calls all the ulema, preachers, security men, and employees who support and back the regime infidels. They have in fact done this in some countries. They have a precedent in the action of the Khawarij [oldest religious sect in Islam] during the rule of the Commander of the Faithful Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him, when they called him infidel and then killed him.”

He added: “Generally speaking, this is not something unusual. As you know, Saudi Arabia was established on the Book and the Sunna. The preachers and the ulema are supporters of the monotheism call on which the state was built. They [terrorists] see the clerics and ulema as their adversaries and supporters of the regime that is based on the Book and the Sunna and have therefore made them easy targets and legitimate ones in their takfiri ideology.”

Asked about the clerics that could be the target of these terrorists, Al-Qarni said: “I cannot specify names but I believe they are the clerics who advocate the Sunna course and the moderate centrist approach. They are their adversaries. These clerics launched a campaign against this takfiri ideology through lectures, speeches, seminars, cassettes, and television. They believe that the clerics fought them and made the people hate them or because they explained their dangers to the people and enlightened the latter through their lessons and they therefore became their adversaries and legitimate targets in their views.”

He went on to say: “I am one of those who talked to them in jail and even one of those who talked to the three leaders. I, and a group of ulema, concluded from this dialogue that they did not add, either during the investigations inside the jails or outside, even a single cassette or word more than what the clerics were saying. Quite frankly, they were influenced by Osama Bin Laden’s thinking.” He added: “We were telling them that our clerics are Bin-Baz, Bin-Uthayman, and others. They said no; our clerics are so and so and our ideology is that of Al-Zawahiri’s. The clerics did not call the regime and government infidel or sanctioned the shedding of blood and the killings.”

On his part, Sheikh Abdullah al-Uthaym, head of the criminal courts in Jeddah, said the terrorist groups turned their attention to the ulema after the religious fatwas against them which proscribed their deviant actions. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that this strategy which is emerging among the terrorist groups is new, particularly as the confessions of several persons involved in these operations showed they did not have this strategy but were focusing on the foreign interests inside Saudi Arabia.” He added that their approach at first and as shown by their confessions was not to choose target inside the state until this changed at the start of the operations.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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