01/04/2014, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi government bans imams from preaching about politics

Concern about extremist tendencies. The Minister of Islamic Affairs says that imams who "politicize" sermons will not be allowed to continue to promote attitudes that divide the community and create hatred.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Concerned about possible extremist tendencies, Saudi Arabia is trying to remove politics from the mosques. The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Saleh Al- Asheikh , has said imams who " politicize" sermons will not be allowed to continue to promote such attitudes . " We have set up - he declared - a legal committee to advise these imams. If they respond positively and follow the guidelines , they will be allowed to continue . If not, then we will say that they are not suitable to preach". "The use of political sermons divides the community and creates hatred among people", instead preachers should spread the word of Allah and "encourage people to worship".

The minister's concern comes from the fact that traditionally the Friday sermon addresses not only religious issues, but also issues of all kinds, including those of custom and social questions, which are borderline with political issues.

The minister added that he will continue to monitor all the mosques and imams to ensure that no one violates the rules, even if he did not hide the difficulty of following all the existing 80 thousand mosques in the Kingdom.

The words of Al- Asheikh , however , have not found unanimous support. Arab News reports the reaction of a teacher who declares that "The mosque and other platforms should be used for the benefit of people. Following moderation is the best way. Efforts must be made to correct the wrong impressions created by extremists" . But the same newspaper also the opinion of Fuad Kawther , a Saudi involved in the propagation of Islam, according to who the minister's strategy contradicts the example of the Prophet , as the mosque of Medina was the center of the Islamic state: "Isolating Islam from different aspects of life will lead to secularization."

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