Hundreds of Saudi imams suspended

Saudi Arabia has suspended hundreds of imams "for negligence".

    More than 80,000 people are employed by Saudi's mosques

    Quoting the head of an advisory committee at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Arab News revealed on Wednesday more than 900 imams had been prevented from leading prayers for some time.
      
    After secretly monitoring thousands of sermons over the past few months, ministry spokesman Salih al-Sadlan confirmed the suspensions due to "various flaws and shortcomings" in what imams told mosque-goers.

    A professor of law at Riyadh's Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, al-Sadlan said the advisory committee would hold seminars in every region of the kingdom to correct "frequent mistakes" in Friday sermons.
      
    Government wants moderation

    It was not clear when the Islamic officials were suspended, but the government has tried to rein in those who refuse to toe a moderate line.
      
    Saudi Arabia cracked down in 2003 on what it termed "incompetent" Friday preachers, firing a number of them. 
      

    The Saudi royals have increasing
    concerns over their security

    Authorities also suspended 1357 religious officials from their duties last year.

    It also ordered them to undergo training in accordance with a programme introduced by the Islamic affairs minister to boost the performance of mosque employees.
      
    Those officially suspended from duties included 517 imams, 90 Friday preachers and 750 callers to prayer.

    Re-education programmes

    They were all instructed to undergo "theological training" to be able to work more efficiently at mosques.
      
    Saudi Arabia employs about 80,000 people - including part-time preachers - at tens of thousands of mosques run by the government.
      
    The kingdom's religious establishment has come under fire, particularly in the US, for allegedly fuelling the kind of thinking that led to the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which 15 of 19 presumed hijackers were Saudi.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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