Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics condemn Islamic State but preach intolerance

September 10, 2014
(Saudi members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh September 1, 2007. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji )

(Saudi members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh September 1, 2007. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji )

When Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh described Islamic State and al Qaeda as “kharijites” last month, he was casting them as the ultimate heretics of Muslim history, a sect that caused the faith’s first and most traumatic schism.

That sort of rhetoric aimed at expelling militants from the Muslim mainstream has grown increasingly common among top Saudi clerics in recent weeks as they work to counter an ideology that threatens their political allies in the Al Saud dynasty.

But while Saudi Arabia’s official Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam attacks Islamists as heretical and “deviant”, many of its most senior and popular clergy preach a doctrine that encourages intolerance against the very groups targeted by IS in Iraq.

The arch conservatives Abdulrahman al-Barrak and Nasser al-Omar, who has more than a million followers on Twitter, have accused Shi’ites of sowing “strife, corruption and destruction among Muslims”.

Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan was sacked as judiciary head in 2008 for saying owners of media that broadcast depravity have forsaken their faith, a crime punishable in Sharia law by death, but he remains a member of the kingdom’s top Muslim council.

Abdulaziz al-Fawzan, a professor of Islamic law and frequent guest on the popular al-Majd religious television channel, has accused the West of being behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, saying “these criminals want to take control over the world”.

Such opinions, which echo the views of militants in Iraq, are not unusual in Saudi Arabia, which applies Sharia Muslim law, has beheaded 20 people in the past month, and where clerics oversee a lavish state-funded religious infrastructure.

Read the full story here.

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3 comments

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These guys are the cause of more terror than any other country…most of the 9/11 crew came from there…financing comes from the people and country itself…
And yet the US is considering special treatment for them for immigration and customs purposes.May allow them to use the Global Entry program in future.I certainly hope not.

Posted by LDishman | Report as abusive

It must be scary to live in a country where if you do not believe certain religious things you can be killed. Scary.

Posted by Factoidz | Report as abusive

Let me ask you a question. The Wahhabists condemned al Qaeda and IS. But you point out that they are, in turn, intolerant of the same groups. Shouldn’t you be specifying not just the degree of intolerance, but the kind of intolerance? For example, the Pope is intolerant of Protestantism. Jews are intolerant of Christians and Muslims. Hindu and Muslims are intolerant of each other. And on and on. Are you intolerant of religions? Or just certain ones? Or ones that behead people? This article just seems to point some sort of finger at the Wahhabists. Calling them hypocrites? Two faced, maybe? Why not say they have made a distinction, a line in the sand (all puns intended), that the violence has gone too far?

Bad journalism. Speak clearly. What’s the purpose of this article?

Posted by aeci | Report as abusive