Preachers to undergo security screening

Saudi members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh, in this Sept. 1, 2007 file photo.

Saudi members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh, in this Sept. 1, 2007 file photo.

Preachers and muezzins (those who call the faithful to prayer) will not be allowed to work until they undergo security screening, according to directives issued by the Interior Ministry.

Many government bodies will also participate in the new screening amid efforts to boost standards and quality among preachers at large mosques, where Friday prayers are held.

The Interior Ministry has notified the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Guidance and Call of the new decision, urging branch managers to abide by the new regulation.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs put forth several requirements when employing preachers.
Applicants should be university degree holders in Islamic sciences and have comprehensive knowledge of prayers and acts of worship. In addition, applicants must know how to recite the Qur’an and will have memorized parts of the holy book

They should also know how to draft and deliver Friday sermons and pass tests drafted by a committee of scholars.

In another development, the Council of Senior Scholars has introduced a first-of-its-kind interactive platform between council members and citizens in a bid to counter extremism.

Council members will communicate with citizens via lectures, seminars and scientific workshops to combat rhetoric adopted by foreign terror groups to lure vulnerable youth into fighting abroad.

The program was set up on directives issued by Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, the Kingdom’s grand mufti and council president.

The council reaffirms the importance of the speech recently given by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Islamic and Arab nations, warning them against the dangers of terrorism, said Fahd Al-Majed, the council’s secretary-general.

“Terrorism has taken on new dimensions,” said Al-Majed. “Groups that claim they are protecting Islam are, in fact, wreaking havoc in the Arab World.

These groups commit acts that have nothing to do with Islam, distorting the image of Islam and Muslims and playing into the hands of this religion’s enemies, while our brethren in Palestine are being subjected to state terrorism before our very eyes,” he said.

Al-Majed reiterated King Abdullah’s recent appeal to Islamic scholars to take part in the intellectual struggle against these groups.

“The council joins in the king’s call and reiterates that groups or individuals found guilty of financing or supporting terrorist groups will be punishable uder the law,” he said.

 
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