ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi Arabia has launched a program to tighten
supervision over mosques to ensure that they are not used for the
recruitment of Islamic insurgency groups.
Officials said the program increases supervision over mosques, preachers
and their Friday sermons. They said the regulations have been drafted by a
government committee appointed by the Islamic Affairs Ministry. Saudi Arabia
has an estimated 50,000 mosques.
The ministry said it will release a book of authorized sermons for
preachers in Saudi mosques, Middle East Newsline reported. The book will serve as a guide for Friday
sermons meant to avoid politics and anti-Western rhetoric.
Officials said the government will not allow mosques to be used for
incitement against Saudi Arabia's allies, including the United States. They
said the regulations are in response to the arrest of hundreds of Saudi
nationals accused of being members of Al Qaida and recruited in mosques
around the kingdom.
Saudi analysts said the government must broaden the role of mosque
preachers. This would include the use of preachers as family counselors.
"I suggest that we employ full-time preachers to serve as imams,
preachers, teachers of the Holy Koran and Islamic sciences as well as social
counsels serving their neighborhoods," Muhammad Al-Harfi, an analyst at the
Riyad-based Al Watan daily, said. "By doing so, the ministry would kill two
birds with one stone. It would guarantee genuine mosque reform and help
fight unemployment among the jobless graduates of Shariah colleges."