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Firebrand imam arrested after Eid sermon

Last updated: Friday, August 16, 2013 12:28 AM

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The imam of a Riyadh mosque has been arrested for allegedly encouraging young men to carry arms and go wage jihad in war-torn areas during his Eid Al-Fitr sermon, Al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday.

The newspaper did not name the imam but said he delivered his sermon at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab Mosque in Al-Salam district of east Riyadh.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawa and Guidance has moved in quickly to suspend the imam, who also called for the release of a Saudi woman terrorist nicknamed the "Al-Qaeda Lady", who has been jailed on charges of supporting terrorists.

The ministry’s Undersecretary for Mosque Affairs Dr. Tawfiq Al-Sudairy described the imam’s actions as "unacceptable" because he violated Islamic norms in his sermon.

He said the ministry has suspended him from leading prayers or delivering sermons and added that further punitive measures would be taken against him.

Al-Sudairy said the ministry liaised with concerned authorities immediately after the Eid prayers to deal with the issue and added that imams should not deviate from Islamic rules and principles in their sermons.

He said the ministry has given imams the liberty to prepare their own sermons and decide the topics they wish to tackle due to its continued confidence in them.

"A special committee of the ministry chooses the imams after putting them through tests and personal interviews," he said.

The imam allegedly accused Muslim scholars of letting down whom he called the Mujahideen in prisons and asked them to support these prisoners through fatwas (religious edicts) and their personal attitudes.

He asked the congregation to wage jihad and support the Mujahideen with money.

He also urged all mothers to raise their children to be real advocates of jihad and promoters of virtue.

The 50-minute sermon was widely distributed on social networking sites, eliciting a strong response.

"Many Muslim lions (Mujahideen) have gone to Syria to fight the tyrant (Bashar Al-Assad) and defend Islam," he said.

He also praised the work of prominent Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who reportedly liberated prisoners in a number of Iraqi prisons earlier this month.

The imam encouraged young Muslims to travel to Egypt to fight alongside the members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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