Thursday, March 18, 2004

900 suspended in SA

900 religious officials have been suspended in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia has suspended 900 local religious officials "for negligence", according to press reports.

"Various flaws and shortcomings were noted," the head of an advisory committee in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs was quoted as saying.

Many commentators in the West have blamed religious discourse in the Kingdom and its educational system for laying the ground for extremism.

Schoolbooks have already been purged of lessons inciting hatred to non-Muslims.

It is not clear when the Islamic officials were suspended, but the government has tried to rein in those who refuse to take a moderate line.

Last year some 1,400 imams were suspended and many of them were ordered to undergo training.

"The reason for the suspension is that various flaws and shortcomings were noted, mainly to do with failure to do what is required of imams and khateebs (prayer leaders and sermon-givers)," said the head of the advisory committee, Saleh Al-Sadlan.

Seminars are to be held to help those found making frequent errors, he added.

The committee would have branches in every region of the kingdom, he added.


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