Gyms are ‘dens of vice,’ says Oman’s chief cleric

He also urged the government to fully ban alcohol

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Oman’s grand mufti denounced gyms and health clubs as “dens of vice” that should be either closed down or vigilantly watched to prevent abuse.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili urge the Omani government to wage a crackdown on gyms and health clubs, and to ban alcohol.

In a comment for him aired on state television Tuesday, al-Khalili said that “drunk people are unproductive people who sink into vice.”

The chief cleric also said that it is not in the interest of the country's leader to rule a "drunken people" but a "rational people."

Alcohol is only available in Oman in four and five star hotels, according to AP.

Meanwhile, Omani gyms and health clubs employ foreign women, especially as masseuses, and this has sparked rumors of practices considered inappropriate in the conservative Gulf country.

Asked about the riots taking place in Oman, the chief cleric voiced his concern in an interview for him in the Oman Television and requested the protesters to demand their rights in a civilized, non-violent way.

"We are not against any person claiming his rights, but this should be done in a more civilized manner. The scenes that we have seen in Sohar are painful and unfortunate. I feel sorry for what is happening in this country which is completely contradicting the peaceful nature of Oman," he said.

"Take for example the protests that are taking place in Dhofar Governorate. The youth of Dhofar have asked for their rights without attacking anyone and have organized the protests in a civilized manner," he added.

According to AP, Wednesday witnessed around 300 security guards demonstrating in the capital Muscat, calling for better wages and weekends off. They blocked traffic on a downtown street before the inspector general for police and customs addressed them, saying he would study their demands. The protesters left and police did not intervene.