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As Jerusalem burns, pro-MBS Saudi cleric focuses on... clean socks Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

As Jerusalem burns, pro-MBS Saudi cleric focuses on... clean socks

Mohammed al-Arifi (R) with powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman [Twitter/Mohammed al-Arifi]

Date of publication: 11 December, 2017

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Prominent Saudi cleric has become the butt of jokes after failing to say anything about Jerusalem, instead addressing trivial matters like the permissibility of wiping socks before prayer
A prominent Saudi cleric and supporter of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become the butt of jokes after failing to say anything about Jerusalem which has been at the centre of outrage across the Muslim world after the US last week recognised it as the capital of Israel.

Instead, Sheikh Mohammed al-Arifi decided to address more important matters like the permissibility of wiping feet during pre-prayer wudu' ["ablution"] without taking one's socks off.


This comes as Friday's sermons in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia kept silent on Jerusalem even as "days of rage" were called across the Arab and Muslim worlds for the occupied city.

"Jerusalem is lost and you are talking about socks," one commented on Sheikh Arifi's socks tweet.

Others were upset because Arifi posted what appears to be woman's stockings.


Arifi himself is a prolific social media personality, posting on Facebook and tweeting on a daily basis to thousands of digital disciples. Apart from preaching the Salafist interpretation of Islam, he is known to regularly weigh in on the social and political issues du jour.
Saudi Arabia has ordered media outlets in the kingdom to not focus "too much attention" on Washington's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

'Silent on Jerusalem'

Saudi Arabia has ordered media outlets in the kingdom to not focus "too much attention" on Washington's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, sources have said.

The Saudi royal court sent a "severe warning" to bosses of newspapers and television and radio stations this week about the issue which has sparked protests across the Arab world, sources told The New Arab on Thursday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they added that the directive ordered media to instead "take aim at Iran and other regional countries" in its coverage.

US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday in a move that has outraged Palestinians and drawn near universal condemnation.

Trump also began the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Saudi royal court on Thursday slammed Trump's "unjustified and irresponsible" decision, in a surprise move that will likely embarrass Riyadh's leadership.

The Supreme Council of Islamic Scholars - the kingdom's most senior religious body - also released a statement, "confirming the great status of Jerusalem" in the Muslim world.

But some commentators considered the council's comments disappointing as it lacked clear criticism of Trump, a close ally of the kingdom's ruling echelons, who authorised the move.

On Thursday, an Israeli minister suggested Trump had obtained the "green light" from Arab leaders before making the divisive decision.

Arab 'green light'

On Thursday, an Israeli minister suggested Trump had obtained the "green light" from Arab leaders before making the divisive decision.

Speaking to Israel's Channel 10, Yisrael Katz claimed the US administration had coordinated the move with Arab leaders prior to the decision, to ensure they would help contain Palestinian and Arab reactions.

Regarding Saudi Arabia's position on Trump's move, Katz claimed Riyadh would take into account "shared security interests with Israel", particularly in relation to common foe Iran.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE's deep distrust of Shia power Iran is shared with Israel and has helped thaw relations.

Saudi Arabia denies any official relations with Israel, despite a deluge of recent reports claiming rapprochement between the two states.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

East Jerusalem - which includes the Old City - is considered occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

The Palestinians hope it would become the capital of their future state once agreed in final status negotiations with Israel, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords. Trump's move puts this hope in serious jeopardy.

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