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The dismissal of 100 Saudi imams and preachers is an arbitrary and politicized decision

Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance issued an arbitrary decision to dismiss around 100 imams and preachers in the regions of Makkah and Qassim and relieving them of their duties. This came as a punishment for them for not following the government orders of making a special preach on Friday to attack the Muslim Brotherhood and warn of its members.

According to informed sources, the decision was issued by the Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Dr. Abdul Latif Al Al-Sheikh, who previously issued decisions to all the preachers on “the necessity of stating the negative impact of the Muslim Brotherhood and warning against the sedition the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to provoke in the Saudi Kingdom”.  Last month he stated the need to form a Friday preach derived from the statement of the Council of Senior Scholars, which classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.

The decision is purely political, and it reflects the repressive nature and politicization of any decision taken in any local field including the social, religious, and sports fields in the kingdom.

It should be noted that this decision is not the first of its kind. On November 11, 2020, the same ministry had issued decision No. 26/19 Q, to dismiss preachers and imams of mosques who did not abide by the ministerial directive to denounce the Muslim Brotherhood and those who were absent from performing this particular preach without an official excuse.

Together for Justice organization stands against this decision and stresses that this is a flagrant violation of freedom of opinion and expression, and a clear politicization of bodies, which are supposed to be neutral, such as the politicization of the Council of Senior Scholars religious, which should not be exploited in this way.

We, in the organization, express our denunciations of the Saudi religious institutions for being subdued to the regime’s illogical orientations, which diverge them from their primary goal of reforming society and calling for harmony between its various factions. We stress that “religion” is much greater than being used as a cheap tool in the hands of those who could turn against it if their interests were in conflict with the religion.

The organization calls on the Saudi civil society actors to stand against such decisions and join efforts to stop the implementation of these decisions.  It also warns that the future will be much worse if the authorities continued to control all bodies in this absurd way.

The organization calls the religious Saudi institution of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and its affiliated bodies to reconsider this decision and similar decisions of a political character and put pressure on the authorities to release numbered more than a hundred preacher and imam, who are detained for their political views.

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