Saudi cleric: 'Israel has placed bounty on my head'

Saudi cleric: 'Israel has placed bounty on my head'
2 min read
25 Feb, 2016
Israel has placed $1 million bounty on prominent Saudi cleric Awad al-Qarni, the religious scholar has said in an angry online tirade against his lecture being cancelled.
Social media users challenged Qarni's Israeli bounty claims [Image from Twitter]
A prominent Saudi preacher has said that Israeli intelligence has put a $1 million bounty on his head in response to him offering a reward to Palestinians who capture Israeli soldiers.

"Thank God. Mossad has put up $1 million for my killing. IS and the Houthis have declared killing me permissible and local liberals attack me day and night," Awad al-Qarni tweeted in Arabic on Tuesday.

In 2011, Qarni offered a reward of $100,000 to any Palestinian who kidnaps an Israeli soldier, in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family.

Saudi intellectual Abdallah Mannaa rejected Qarni's claims saying that the cleric was trying to promote himself and that Israel only assassinates people who pose "a serious threat".

Qarni's claims come after a university in Medina recently cancelled a religious lecture he was meant to deliver, prompting him to launch an attack against secular Saudi Arabians.

"ٌThrough this platform, I challenge the figures of the secular community to an unrestricted debate live on a respectable or neutral channel," Qarni said.

Qarni is well known in Saudi Arabia for his outspoken views but is not part of the official clerical establishment.

There has been a growing rift between the religious establishment and liberals in Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the head of the religious police in Riyadh was sacked after numerous controversies surrounding the group surfaced, including an unprecedented defamation lawsuit from a TV talk show host who says he was falsely arrested for "public drunkenness".

In response Mohammad al-Arefe, another social media savvy cleric with a huge online, launched an attack on liberal elements of the country's media accusing them of "serving the enemy".

Saudis, who make up the region's largest Twitter users, took to social media to challenge Qarni's Israeli bounty claims using the Arabic-language hashtag #QarniConfrontsSeculars.

A journalist asked the cleric to provide a source for his claims, to which Twitter users jokingly posted a link to a news story from 2011 of Qarni making the same claims.