Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Al Saud v. Ulama

After Shaykh Sa'ad al-Shithri criticized the opening of a coed university in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah dismissed him from his religious post. This move has given rise to a debate:
"Liberals in Saudi Arabia are thrilled with the sacking of Dr Sa'ad Bin Nasser Al Shithri from the Council of Senior Scholars, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia...

"Dr Adel Ahmad Bana'mah, a member of the staff at the Umm Al Qura University in Makkah, however, took a different view of the developments. He wrote that the whole issue of Dr Al Shithri's open criticism of the curriculum and the social environment in KAUST and the reaction of liberal writers in Saudi newspapers and media outlets reflected the level of tension in society."

Social tension between liberals and conservatives is one thing, but the real issue was probably that Saudi royals are taking advantage of anti-fundamentalist opinion both at home and abroad to make criticism of royal initiatives off limits.



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