Saudi Imam jailed; to be given lashes for issuing death threat

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Dubai, Dec 31: In a significant ruling, a Saudi imam has been jailed in Riyadh for issuing death threat to an official for suspending him on charges of using anti-Western slogans in his sermons. The Kingdom's Cassation Court (appeals court) will now hear the case of the imam who has been jailed by a court in Hail. The imam allegedly threatened to kill the head of the branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Hail.

The ministry asked the imam several times to refrain from using political slogans but the imam was adamant and refused to obey. He was then summoned to the ministry and removed from his position.The Arab News reported that the imam ''kept arguing with the judge that it was legitimate in Islam to pray against the governments of certain Western countries.'' The source continued: ''When the judge asked him whether he was the sender of the death threats, he confessed and did not deny it.'' The judge then sentenced the imam to seven months in prison and 150 lashes.

Earlier this month, Interior Minister Prince Naif said some mosques in the Kingdom were being used to send messages which violated their main purpose. The prince also said some imams and khateebs (preachers) were not doing enough to discourage militancy among Saudi youth, including discouraging young Saudis from going to Iraq to fight alongside insurgents.

UNI

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