Saudi rulers under fire after arrest of well-known Islamic preacher

Local activists and al-Qaida elements lash out at the Saudi government for arresting a well-known scholar who protested the decision to strip religious police of its authorities.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi security forces arrested a well-known Islamic preacher for mocking the government, Saudi media reported.
According to reports on social media on Saturday following Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Tarifi’s arrest, the security forces incarcerated the 39-yearold preacher due to a comment he wrote on Twitter on Thursday, describing the Saudi government as apostate.
“There are rulers who think that if they renounce their religion to satisfy apostates, the pressures on them will be stopped. Each time you renounce a bit, they push you to renounce more to make you follow their way,” Tarifi’s comment read.
This comment was part of series of remarks written by Tarifi to condemn the recent decision taken by the Saudi government to strip the religious police of its authority to arrest Shari’a violators. Tarif, like many other citizens who launched social media campaigns to protest the move, heavily criticized the decision, claiming that it abolishes the role the religious police were designated for.
Since the Saudi scholar is a wellknown Islamic State proponent, the reports on his arrest engendered contentious reactions from all over the Arab world, including from al-Qaida affiliated elements.
Sheikh Abdullah al-Muhaysini, a Saudi cleric in Syria affiliated with al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, revealed his rage over Tarifi’s arrest in a series of remarks on Twitter.
“Tarifi’s arrest opens a door to annul the religious police. It signals the beginning of a new era that aims at weakening religious preachers,” Muhaysini stated.
In his remarks, Muhaysini urged Muslim scholars who avoided denouncing Tarifi’s arrest, fearing the government’s reaction, not to “sit idly by, but to push for his release.”
Other social media activists blasted Saudi King Salman for what they described as a “witch hunt” against Saudi preachers, owing to the fact that Tarifi’s detention followed the arrest of two other preachers, Mohammad Khadif and Sliman Duwaish.
A well-known Saudi political analyst, Mujtahid Bin Hammam, wrote on Twitter that Tarifi was not arrested because of a specific comment he wrote on the social media network.
“His arrest is a preventative step for future decisions that Mohammad bin Salman [the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia who is considered the acting ruler of the kingdom] expects Tarifi to oppose,” Bin Hammam wrote.