Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Dawa and Guidance is in the final stages of preparing for the process of monitoring the kingdom’s religious ‘dawa’ [Islamic proselytizing] camps.
The ministry is expected to begin the implementation of its plan this summer season amidst strict measures taken by ministry officials with the intention of putting an end to the exploitation of these camps by agenda-driven individuals.
This comes after a series of accusations were leveled at the religious camps by a number of intellectual and cultural activists who believe that some parties have exploited these camps to settle their disputes with others, in addition to relaying provocative messages against those who hold opinions different than theirs. This is achieved under the protection of the conservatives who control these camps.
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dr. Tawfiq al Sudairi, said that the ministry has taken all measures to ensure that all procedures and regulations are applied to ensure the limitation of the role of these camps within the defined objectives. However, there are fears among observers that these camps might witness illegal activities that could lead to the creation of a culture that feeds on disqualifying and antagonizing those who hold different views.
But these fears could be laid to rest according to al Sudairi who stressed that the ministry will not permit the circulation of any issues that could have a divisive or disruptive effect on society.
“This might have happened in the past but the ministry has brought the matter under control lately,” al Sudairi told Asharq Al-Awsat. He added that all the religious camps to be established this year will be under the direct control of the ministry and the local authorities.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has begun its collaboration with the concerned authorities to expand the number of camps so that they will be spread throughout the kingdom. Although the undersecretary did not specify the number of the camps that will be established this year, he did state that they would be in the dozens range.
Currently, the ministry is receiving a list of all the participants involved in these camps and will be preparing them for approval. Furthermore, al Sudairi also stressed that the Ministry of Islamic Affairs will be approving the subjects to be discussed in the religious camps. He hinted that the ministry will not permit the discussion of subjects that have not been approved and neither will it allow anyone to step on the pulpit to lecture audiences. The undersecretary affirmed that this will be achieved in accordance with approved procedures.
Among the subjects to be emphasized in the religious camps, according to al Sudairi, are building the personalities of the young men and current affairs such as extremism and takfiri thought [Muslims holding other Muslims to be disbelievers], in addition to dealing with the deviance could be a source of temptation for Saudi youth.
Al Sudairi stressed that the ministry will ban the distribution of any religious tapes or books in these camps that have not been approved by the ministry first.