Saudi Arabia’s hate preachers must be silenced
By: Khaled Almaeena
A Gulf paper reported the suspension of the Twitter account of a Saudi preacher who urged followers on social media networking websites to celebrate the death by suicide bombing of dozens of protestors in Yemen thought to be Houthis. On Twitter, Khalid al-Ghamdi gloated over the corpses of people killed in bomb attacks in Sanaa on Oct. 9. He praised the al-Qaeda group who carried out the attack and in his twisted way asked followers to watch images of the burnt bodies. His show on Al-Wesal TV has been accused by patriotic Saudis of stoking sectarianism in the region. The sadistic comments caused outrage among peace-loving people who called for his prosecution.
We must work harder to preserve our security and stability and strive to achieve greater prosperity
Al-Ghamdi’s perverted, uncivilized and barbaric behavior is totally repugnant to the majority of Muslims all over the world. To ask people to gloat over the killing of innocent women and children reveals a demonic mind. The government is intent on fighting this evil ideology of hate, intolerance, incitement to murder and the vicious brutality of glorifying such heinous acts. However, we can’t do this by praying in mosques against “Daish,” the so-called Islamic State, or by reading circulars from the authorities asking us not to be swayed by deviants. This is a threatening evil ideology that has to be fought with serious determination and political will.
Ugly forms of extremism
Sadly, over the past 25 years extremism in all its ugly forms has spread in every strata of society. These self-appointed guardians of religion have become a “state within a state.” They have infiltrated all professions and many of us have tolerated them thinking it was a passing phase that posed no serious harm. Today, we are paying a serious price for having neglected to address what was clearly a recipe for disaster. We have allowed these agents of obscurantism and perverted ideology to spread like cancer. We cannot continue to be passive bystanders any longer. We should speak louder with our own narrative. They have hijacked our religion and preyed upon the minds of our innocent youth.
Let us encourage a united public outcry condemning their distorted interpretation of our Islamic ideology and let us project our true Muslim faith that shares universal values of tolerance, decency and righteousness. Let us also promote the proper Jihad of striving to do good deeds and serving the Merciful by spreading peace and love to all mankind. The public should understand that they have a religious responsibility to report to the authorities any talk that encourages extremism or sympathizes with any acts of terrorism.
The authorities on their part should weed out extremist elements and fifth columnists from public offices. Business people should contribute to building playing fields, libraries and theaters for the benefit of the young. Let them focus on love of life and hard work to counter the purveyors of death, the likes of al-Ghamdi who want to create a society of hatred, destruction and ruin. Let us glorify the message of God in the Holy Quran that celebrates life on earth and the Hereafter, a life of compassion and harmony.
A lot of progress has been accomplished in our country. However, we must work harder to preserve our security and stability and strive to achieve greater prosperity. This will require disciplined and sensible progressive minds, and we have plenty of them who need more recognition and support. Our message to these preachers of hate should be loud and clear: We will not allow you to hijack our country!
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena’s political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena