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Middle East

Kuwait pulls cleric from TV over sectarianism

Shafi al-Ajmi's show cancelled as authorities accuse him of instigating hatred and promoting al-Qaeda-linked rebels.

Last Modified: 13 Aug 2013 13:18
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Al-Ajmi openly raises money for Syrian rebel groups, including al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra [AP]

Government officials in Kuwait have pulled a prominent cleric off television over previous comments they say stoked sectarian tensions and promoted an al-Qaeda-linked rebel group in Syria.

Shafi al-Ajmi's show, "Following the Path of the Prophet," premiered on Monday on state television in Kuwait.

By Tuesday, Information Minister Salman al-Homood said the show had been cancelled and that an investigation had begun to determine who was responsible for putting the cleric on the air.

"The ministry of information does not approve of airing episodes for any individuals who instigates hatred and promotes such rhetoric," al-Homood told journalists.

Al-Ajmi regularly writes anti-Shia comments online, suggesting that the Shia faith should be banned in Muslim countries.

Supporting rebels

He also gained notoriety in the Gulf kingdom when he appeared in an online video in which he celebrated the beheading of a leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group and his son.

The cleric also actively raises funds for Syrian rebel groups including al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a message on Monday on Twitter, al-Ajmi wrote that that "all supporters of the Syrian fighters are welcome to my home." He followed that up by posting his home address.

Kuwait has been battered by political unrest for the past two years.

A variety of groups inspired by the Arab Spring protest movements have stepped up pressure on the ruling Al Sabah family over alleged fiscal mismanagement, corruption and efforts to police social media.

Over the past two years, dozens of people have been charged with remarks deemed offensive to the emir, which is a crime in Kuwait.

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Source:
Associated Press
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