Former Mecca imam sparks outrage after appearing in Saudi combat games promo

Former Mecca imam sparks outrage after appearing in Saudi combat games promo
3 min read
20 November, 2021
The former Imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque was slammed as a "clown" by social media users who accused him of supporting "corruption".
Many appeared to be taken aback at Mecca's former imam's inclusion in the promotional video [Getty]

A former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca has been widely criticised after appearing in a promotional video clip for a combat game event as part of the Riyadh Season 2021.

Adil al-Kalbani appeared in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday by Saudi Arabia's Entertainment Authority chief, Turki Al Sheikh, promoting the "adventurous" 'Combat Field' event, which will run until 16 March next year.

The 62-year-old appeared dressed in military uniform and leading a battle in the video, which has gathered over 5 million views in less than 24 hours.

Many social media users slammed the cleric's participation in the video, calling him a "clown" and accusing him of supporting "corruption".

"I am not against entertainment... but I am against randomness, stupidity and the lack of separation between religion and public life," one twitter user said.

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Many others were also taken aback at the former Mecca imam's inclusion in the video.

One twitter user said that "if he had any good in him", he would still be the imam today.

Some shared conspiracies that the former imam is a client of the Saudi government, who's job it is to "mislead people".

While others held that "righteous" individuals would not "accept such actions in support of the people of falsehood and corruption".

There were also those who didn't understand the controversy, with one Twitter user saying "[the uproar] made me feel like he committed blasphemy".

Some also defended the cleric, saying: "[He] is promoting a Saudi festival and this is his patriotic duty"

Others seemed amused by the video's "creativity".

In response to the video shared by Al-Sheikh, Al-Kalbani joked: "Do you think I can go to Hollywood?", to which the authority chair responded he could "do anything".