By Arab News
A number of religious scholars and academics have stressed the need for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance to beef up monitoring of places of worship. It followed the recent report of a Riyadh mosque serving as a facade for manufacturing explosives.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it discovered explosive substances and devices at a lean-to of a quiet mosque in Riyadh. Mosques normally use attached rooms to accommodate workers or for library service.
The scholars also demanded deterrent punishments to those who exploit the spiritual atmosphere in mosques to promote chaos in the country, Al-Madinah daily reported on Monday.
“Those who seek to destabilize the country and fight against security forces come under the category of ‘those who rebel against Allah and His Messenger’ and a country’s legitimate government and hence should be punished severely,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, who is a member of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and adviser at the Royal Court.
The scholar also congratulated the Interior Ministry for its successful preemptive strike against the Riyadh cell and protecting the people from such heinous deeds.
“The Islamic Affairs Ministry should ensure that imams and muezzins inspect the mosque premises regularly and thoroughly, so that the facilities are not misused for subversive activities. The sacred houses of worship should not be converted into dens of destructive acts,” he said.
Member of the Fiqh Academy Muhammad Al-Nojaimi stressed the duty of the worshipers and residents in nearby buildings apart from imams and muezzins to see that mosques are not exploited for subversive activities. “Officials concerned should also investigate why some expatriates are unofficially undertaking duties at mosques. They should also launch campaigns and raids at such mosques,” he said.
Head of Islamic studies at the Umm Al-Qura University Muhammad Al-Sahli said it was a matter of deep pain for all Muslims, especially students and teachers of religious knowledge and preachers, that a mosque had been used as a cover for destructive activities.
Director of the Makkah branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization Ahmed Al-Muwarraie urged parents and teachers to protect their children or students from vicious ideologies they might be exposed to in the present circumstances.
Professor of Political Studies at King Saud University Abdullah Al-Lehaidan said the uncovering of a terror cell in Riyadh was not a matter to be taken lightly. “The latest discovery shows that the terror menace is still existing in the country and could be uprooted only after flushing it out from the neighboring Yemeni territories, just as terrorist activities were flushed out from the Kingdom.”
An academic specialized in political sciences at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Waheed Hashim, said Al-Qaeda in Yemen facilitated terrorists to infiltrate into the Kingdom. Another political science expert at the university said Al-Qaeda in Yemen changed its strategy of sending explosives to the Kingdom from outside. “Now they make explosives in the Kingdom, unlike what they did in the past.”
The academics also viewed that the political and economic failure of Yemen provided a breeding ground for terrorists. “The terrorist ideology thrived in Yemen because of rampant poverty, hunger, and endless disputes between religious or tribal sects, insecurity, and a weak central government. The country’s strategic geographical position enables terrorists to secretly enter Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.”
Meanwhile, a former Saudi fighter in Afghanistan, Sheikh Siraj Al-Zahrani, warned against the dangers of Saudi youths being carried away by the temptation to be martyrs in Syria. Siraj said he joined the Afghan Taleban fighters on the assumption that they were fighting on the straight religious path, but experience made him disillusioned and prompted him to return home. “No youth should go to Syria or other war fronts without the permission from their guardians. A family should be cautious about its sons being lured to war zones for jihad,” the sheikh said.