The Saudi Arabia government has sacked nearly 100 Islamic imams and preachers from mosques in Makkah and Al-Qassim for failing to condemn activities of radical Islamist terrorist organisation – ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ despite instructions from the government.
According to a report by Middle East Monitor, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance had issued instructions for all imams and preachers to criticise the Islamist outfit and blame them for causing differences and divisions within society.
The ministry had ordered preachers to dedicate the Friday sermon to support the recent statement by the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars in which the council described the group as a “terrorist” organisation that does not represent Islam’s true teachings but rather serves its partisan interests.
Accordingly, mosque preachers across Saudi Arabia were issued diktats last month to issue sermons in warning the faithful against the dangers posed by the banned outfit. The clerics had devoted their pre-prayer sermons to emphasize the crucial importance of unity and avoiding discord. They had issued warning against groups operating under the cloak of religion for mundane agendas, mainly the Brotherhood.
However, it is alleged that the preachers from Makkah and Al-Qassim neglected the Saudi government diktat and did not issue any sermons criticising the Brotherhood.
Following that, the General Department of Islamic Affairs requested the ministry to terminate the service of more than 100 preachers after a two-week process of the headcount of preachers.
Saudi Arabia’s hostile relationship with the outfit
Saudi Arabia formally designated the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2014 and banned it in the kingdom.
In the 1950s, Saudi Arabia gave shelter to thousands of Brotherhood activists facing jail and repression in Egypt, Syria and other Islamic countries. However, Brotherhood soon gained influence in the kingdom. The rift started after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and Saudi conduct in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood had openly criticised the US military presence in the kingdom.
However, the authorities had then crushed the radical Islamic organisation but blamed the movement for sowing dissent. In 2002, the Saudi interior minister had referred the to the Muslim Brotherhood as the “source of all evils in the kingdom.”
In 2013 Saudi backed a military coup in Egypt which saw then Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi overthrow the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi who hailed from the Brotherhood.
What is Muslim Brotherhood?
The Muslim Brotherhood is a pan-Islamic ‘movement’ founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, a schoolteacher working in the town of Ismailia near Suez. The aim of the movement was to revive the Islamic religion, which would enable the Muslim world to compete with the West and shake off colonial rule.
The teachings of Banna spread across the Islamic world, beyond Egypt, creating various Islamist political movements- including missionary, charitable and advocacy organizations. Even many political parties in various countries in the region— trace their roots to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, some of them use the name Muslim Brotherhood and others do not.
Various offshoots and affiliates of the group have been linked to terrorist attacks in the past and have sparked troubles elsewhere in the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood is considered to be the forerunner of modern Islamic terrorism.
The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt has classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and often accuses it of carrying out terrorist attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is already banned in many countries, including in Islamic countries like the Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria. Even Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan have banned the Muslim Brotherhood.