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Five Saudis jailed for following fake Mahdi

The court sentenced five Saudis for up to 25 years in prison for following fake Mahdi

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A summary court in Riyadh sentenced five Saudis for up to 25 years in prison after they were convicted of following a Kuwaiti man who claimed he was the prophesied Mahdi (savior).

Many Muslims, especially the Shiites, believe the Mahdi would appear before the Day of Judgement to establish peace and justice and will rid the world of evil. However, neither the Qur’an nor the early collections of Hadith (Prophet’s traditions) make explicit reference to the coming of the Mahdi.

The prosecution charged the five with believing in the fake Mahdi, traveling to Kuwait to visit him and attempting to spread his teachings in the Kingdom.

The court said the defendants could not be released after serving their jail terms if they had not repented. It also slapped a travel ban of five to 25 years on the five men after their release from prison.

The court said the judges reached their decision by majority, as one of them called for them to be executed.

Both the public prosecutor and the defendants objected to the ruling. The court gave them a month to appeal its verdict before it becomes final.

The court said all the defendants made personal contact with the alleged Mahdi, some of them lived with him in his house in Kuwait, helped him financially, administered his website, communicated with him through e-mail, distributed his books and wrote supportive articles on social media.

The first defendant, who was imprisoned for 25 years, was previously caught on the same charge but declared his repentance and signed a pledge never to return to his takfiri (describing others as infidels) ideology before he was released.

The court said all the defendants considered the Kingdom, its government and its people to be infidels and claimed that anyone who did not believe in their alleged Mahdi was not a Muslim.

The second defendant received 10 years in jail, the third was imprisoned for 20, while the fourth and fifth were jailed for seven and five years respectively.