Famed Saudi cleric says he will 'sever' links with Qatar

Famed Saudi cleric says he will 'sever' links with Qatar
Saudi cleric Aid al-Qarni vehemently criticised Qatar and said he would sever his relations with Doha for allegedly supporting dissidents in Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
08 May, 2019
Our country and our people are targeted by Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Muslim Brotherhood [Getty]

Famed Saudi cleric Aid al-Qarni on Monday vowed to sever his relations with Qatar due to its alleged support of dissidents, after he managed to avoid openly criticising Doha despite a Riyadh-led blockade on the emirate.

Public sympathy to the Qatari state is illegal in Saudi Arabia with a number of public figures jailed for this.

The preacher told Rotana Khalijia channel, owned by Saudi tycoon Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, that the more Saudi citizens distance themselves from the kingdom the closer they are to Qatar.

He also alleged that Saudi Arabia is targeted by Iran, Turkey and Qatar, a common conspiracy spouted by regime loyalists.

"I will announce it tonight. Our country and our people are targeted by Qatar, Turkey, Iran and Muslim Brotherhood," said al-Qarni.

He outlined three red lines not to be transgressed in the kingdom, namely "moderate Islam", "homeland" and "allegiance the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman".

On behalf of Sahwa movement - a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired movement that demanded political reforms in Saudi Arabia - he apologised for what he calls mistakes of the past and restrictions that contradicted Quran and Sunna (the Prophet Muhammad's teachings).

He also said that he is in favour of the "moderate and open" Islam publicised in the West by the crown prince, despite harsh laws still practiced in the kingdom such as the public beheading and crucifixion of criminals.

The cleric also reiterated that he would dedicate himself to serve the leadership's vision for the kingdom with public figures detained or disappeared unless they vocally support Prince Mohammed, according to activists.

Nurturing the public profile of a reformer, Prince Mohammed has sought to bolstered his power under the guise of economic and social liberalisation.

But the autocratic prince has also detained clerics, bloggers, intellectuals and rights activists.

In September 2017, Saudi authorities arrested prominent religious preacher Salman al-Ouda in what appeared to be a crackdown on critics of the country's foreign policy, including the disastrous war in Yemen.

Sheikh Salman Salman al-Ouda, 62, was reportedly taken into custody, just days after he took to Twitter, where he has nearly 14 million followers, to welcome reports that Saudi and Qatari royals had made contact months after Riyadh led a blockade on Doha.

The remarks was seen, however, as critical of the Saudi-led blockade of neighbouring Qatar, which began in June 2017.