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Saudi Grand Mufti: Cooperating with Foreign Media 'Major Crime'

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti issued a religious edict prohibiting Arabs from contacting or cooperating with foreign media outlets.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 11/11/2012, 7:41 PM

Muslim prays in Saudi Arabia
Muslim prays in Saudi Arabia
Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti issued a religious edict prohibiting Arabs from contacting or cooperating with foreign media outlets seeking to “spread chaos and strife in Muslim lands”, Al-Arabiya reported. 

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh told worshipers during a Friday sermon held in a mosque in the capital Riyadh that people should not contact foreign media outlets to “divulge the country’s secrets or address various matters” because these outlets “are only concerned with dividing people and striking the unity of the nation.” 

He said doing so was tantamount to “treason and major crime.”

The Grand Mufti, whose words hold a great deal of weight as he is considered to be the highest religious authority in the kingdom, warned against covering up or sheltering criminals who threaten the country’s security saying, “It is not permissible and is considered betrayal and assistance to the enemies of Islam.”

“A believer has to help keeping security, that of his nation and community, and protecting his religion,” he said, as quoted by the Saudi daily newspaper Okaz.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, "No foreign or local journalists are granted access to the Eastern Province, where protesters have been calling for political reforms and greater rights for the Shiite minority since February 2011." Additionally "international news outlets operating inside its borders limit their reporting in order to maintain accreditation."

As censorship has tightened in response to the anti-Western protests that have spread throughout the Muslim World, Human Rights Watch reported that, "The Ministry of Culture and Information heavily censored print and broadcast media. Internet critics crossing vague 'red lines' faced arrest."

In March, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh declared it was “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region."

While the Mufti insisted that the time that the “justice system in Sadi Arabia is fair,” he nonetheless went on to say that, “all matters related to justice should be reviewed by Shariah courts as God the Almighty said in the Holy Quran."