Saudi cleric plans visit to J'lem

J'lem municipality:'attempts to stir up violence' will not be permitted.

April 6, 2010 03:45
1 minute read.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Areefi

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Areefi 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A prominent Saudi cleric who announced his intention to arrive in the capital next week, to bolster Muslim claims to the city, doesn’t “stand a chance in hell” of being granted entry to the country, much less Jerusalem, a source inside the municipality said on Monday.

“Jerusalem under the flag of the State of Israel is open for all people of all faiths from around the world to enjoy,” the municipality source said.

However, politically motivated attempts to stir up tension or violence in the already simmering capital would not be permitted, the source added.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Areefi, a cleric based in Riyadh, told viewers of his Sunday television show on the religious satellite channel Iqra that its next episode would be dedicated to Muslim claims to Jerusalem and Palestine.

Areefi said he would visit the capital next week, though he did not specify exactly when. It would be an unprecedented trip for a prominent Saudi.

Saudi Arabia observes a strict boycott of Israel and bans travel there.

In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials were looking into the matter on Monday night, unaware – beyond what was published in the media – of any information about an impending visit by Areefi.

Although Areefi is a comparative moderate among Saudi Arabia’s conservative clergy, he told viewers on Sunday that he was not afraid of any “treachery from the Jews,” as he had put his trust in God.

Areefi’s show is aimed at encouraging young people to get involved in their communities and contribute their time in humanitarian work.

It features a studio audience of young people and live call-ins from viewers. Areefi is currently visiting Jordan.

Herb Keinon and AP contributed to this report.

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