'Saudi Arabia's top cleric said Tuesday that extremism and the ideologies of groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida are Islam's No. 1 enemy and that Muslims have been their first victims.
Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik also said in his public statement that terrorism has no place in Islam, and that the danger of extremists lies in their use of Islamic slogans to justify their actions that divide people.
"These foreign groups do not belong to Islam and Muslims adhering to it,"…'
Great to finally hear, but I wish it would have been sooner than 13 years after 9-11.
'King Abdullah has been pressing clerics to publicly condemn Islamic extremist groups since the government made it illegal for citizens to fight in conflicts abroad. Clerics who do not condemn terrorism in traditional Friday sermons could face penalties, such as having their licenses to preach revoked.
Local media have reported that the Saudi Interior Ministry may require clerics to pass a security screening before they can preach, and that around 3,500 clerics in Saudi Arabia have been dismissed since 2003 for their sermons.
The Islamic State group's advances in Iraq and Syria have heightened security concerns in neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia. They have also prompted a number of articles and discussions in the local press about how to confront the spread of "Takfiri" ideology, which shuns anyone who does not adhere to a stringent interpretation of Islam. Saudi Arabia follows a puritanical interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism.
A decade ago, al-Qaida militants launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. A fierce crackdown by Saudi Arabia's security services forced many militants to flee to neighboring Yemen, which now has one of the world's most active al-Qaida branches.
Over the past two days, a court in the capital, Riyadh, has sentenced 31 people for their involvement in those attacks, sentencing three to death and the rest to prison. All will be allowed to appeal the verdict.'
Unfortunately it may not be spontaneous, but rather a push by the government which felt threatened.