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Saudi Arabia sacked imams for not warning against Muslim Brotherhood, minister confirms

Abdullatif al-Sheikh confirmed that the imams were sacked [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 23 December, 2020

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Saudi Arabia's religious affairs minister said the move highlighted the importance of following state directives.

Saudi Arabia’s minister for Islamic affairs confirmed on Tuesday that imams were recently sacked by authorities for ignoring a directive to warn citizens against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Speaking to state-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya, Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said the punitive action highlighted the importance of following government directives.

“The reports of several imams being fired is true. This is due to their failure to implement the ministry's directives in publishing a statement from the Senior Religious Scholars Council commenting and explaining to people the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group,” al-Sheikh was quoted as saying.

“There is no doubt that their termination does not mean that they are from the Brotherhood or supporters of this ideology, but rather it is a regulatory procedure of the ministry to those who do not implement directives or were slow in implementing it would be dispensed with and are replaced by those who are prepared and those who meet the conditions,” he added.

Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood established itself in the mid-20th century as the country's main opposition movement in Egypt, eventually spreading throughout Middle East.

Following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, the Islamist group enjoyed electoral victory in Egypt, however became the subject of a widespread crackdown after the country's 2013 military coup.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have spearheaded the region-wide crackdown on the Islamist movement, with Riyadh having designated it a terrorist organisation in 2014.

Earlier this week, Egypt's top Sunni religious authority, the Al Azhar university, issued a religious edict forbidding membership of the Brotherhood. The fatwa echoed one issued by the UAE's top religious council in November which designated it as a terrorist organisation.

Attacks on the trans-national Islamist group have sparked outcry around the Muslim world.

In a joint statement in November, religious scholar associations from Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine and other countries backed the Muslim Brotherhood as "defenders" of Islam.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is a missionary group … including a large number of scholars, preachers and Mujahideen have joined the effort to defend the doctrine of Islam and its Sharia," the associations said.

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