Saudi Arabia’s Islamic affairs minister confirmed that many imams were fired in recent weeks after failing to follow a ministry directive to warn citizens against the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology.
Saudi minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh told Al Arabiya on Tuesday that the ministry did not wish to suspend or fire any of their employees but stressed the importance of the jobs of clerics and sermon givers.
“The reports of several imams being fired is true. This is due to their failure to implement the ministry's directives in publishing a statement from the Senior Religious Scholars Council commenting and explaining to people the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group,” al-Sheikh said.
“ There is no doubt that their termination does not mean that they are from the Brotherhood or supporters of this ideology, but rather it is a regulatory procedure of the ministry to those who do not implement directives or were slow in implementing it would be dispensed with and are replaced by those who are prepared and those who meet the conditions,” he added.
Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2014.
According to Okaz and its sister newspaper the Saudi Gazette, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs were jointly working on a plan to nationalize jobs of imam and prayer callers at prayer halls of major commercial complexes.
“Firstly, as you know, the Ministry is very interested in the houses of God Almighty and is very dependent on the imams and preachers, and is prepared to support a large number of preachers with brilliant thinking and those with good orientations who meet the conditions of the Imam position, whether in small or bigger mosques. A large number of them are prepared for this honorable work, and the ministry has a very, very large number of advanced candidates interested in these jobs and are willing to occupy these jobs, including many who are graduates of Sharia colleges and who hold masters and PhDs in Sharia sciences,” al-Sheikh said.