Saudi Grand Mufti Condemns U.S. Embassy Attacks
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh called on world leaders to criminalize insults of the Prophet Muhammad. He also denounced the past week’s embassy attacks, saying, “It is forbidden to punish the innocent for the wicked crimes of the guilty, or to attack those who have been granted protection of their lives and property.” Additionally, he said that the attacks “[were] a distortion of the Islamic religion and are not accepted by God.” There have been no reports of anti-American demonstrations in Saudi Arabia thus far.
The Mufti’s remarks echo those of the Saudi Arabian government on September 13. The kingdom denounced the group which produced the insulting film as “irresponsible” and also condemned “the violent reactions that occurred in a number of countries against American interests.”
Meanwhile, the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Abdul Aziz Qattan is incensed over criticism of his country’s judicial system in the cases two Egyptian nationals, Naglaa Wafa and Ahmed el-Gizawi. Wafa has been sentenced to five years in prison and 500 lashes for allegedly socializing with a foreign man without a chaperone, as well as embezzling two million rials from a Saudi princess. Qattan is under arrest for suspicion of drug smuggling. The cases are under review by the office of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and have strained relations between the two countries.
Finally, an opinion piece in The Washington Post explores the need for reform in Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. Karen House suggests that despite Saudi Arabia’s relative calm, it is nearing a crisis point. She writes that,” Most ordinary Saudis aren’t demanding democracy, but merely a more efficient government and a more equitable distribution of the oil riches that they believe belong to the country, not just to the royal family. It is far from certain that a ruler from the new generation could meet these demands, however modest they may seem.”