Gulf Islamists irked as monarchs back Egypt’s generals
A scuffle broke the reflective atmosphere of Friday prayers in Riyadh’s al-Ferdous mosque after the imam deplored the recent bloody crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters by the military in nearby Egypt.
The fight between members of the congregation, recorded on a widely circulated Youtube clip and reported by the daily al-Hayat newspaper, demonstrated how high feelings are running in the devoutly Muslim kingdom.
While they have been careful to express only muted dissent in public, Islamists and some other conservative Gulf Muslims are quietly seething at Saudi Arabia’s whole-hearted backing of Egyptian army chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
After Sisi’s military seized power last month, a group of clerics in the kingdom signed a letter calling on King Abdullah to reverse his position, and since the violence began two weeks ago, many Saudis have spoken out on social media.
“For Riyadh to be in the frontline of a confrontation like what is taking place in Egypt is unprecedented. It is making ripples inside Saudi Arabia,” said a Saudi journalist.
Saudi King Abdullah and the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, and to a lesser extent of Kuwait, have long distrusted the Muslim Brotherhood, which they feared would use its power in Egypt to agitate for political change across the Middle East.