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Saudi Arabia moves to silence hate preacher for insulting deceased Kuwaiti Shia actor Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudi Arabia moves to silence hate preacher for insulting deceased Kuwaiti Shia actor

Abdulredha, who was a Kuwaiti comedian, died recently at the age of 78 [Twitter]

Date of publication: 13 August, 2017

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Saudi authorities have moved to silence a cleric who issued a fatwa banning Muslims from commemorating the death of Kuwait's most prominent actor because he was a Shia Muslim.

Saudi authorities have moved to silence a cleric who issued a fatwa banning followers from commemorating the death of Kuwait's most prominent actor because he was a Shia Muslim.

The ministry of culture and information on Sunday referred Ali al-Rabieei for questioning over "violations of publication laws" after he called on Muslims to desist from showing their respects for the late Abdulhussain Abdulredha, Saudi daily Sabq reported.

Abdulredha, who was a Shia comedian of Iranian descent, died on Friday aged 78.

"Muslims are not allowed to pray for Abdulredha because he was an Iranian rejector [of Sunni Islam], who died misguided. God forbade Muslims from wishing mercy and repentance for unbelievers," Rabieei said in a tweet before he later deleted it.

The cleric, who has over 250 thousand followers on the social media platform, quickly faced a severe backlash against his sectarianism.

Fifty Kuwaiti intellectuals issued a joint statement on Sunday calling for immediate legal action against the sheikh for his "abusive words against the sanctity of the deceased", Saudi daily Okaz reported.

Twitter users also rallied together using an Arabic-language hashtag, calling for Rabieei to be held accountable for his hate speech.

     
      A screengrab of the deleted tweet

Rabieei issued an apology on Sunday to Kuwaitis for the "misunderstanding" his tweet had created but added that he would only accept punishment for his remarks if they were proven to contradict religious scripture and edicts made by senior Saudi Islamic scholars.

In another tweet, he swore to take revenge against any "rejectors" - a derogatory term used by Sunni extremists to insult Shias - who posted images of his passport online.

Sources told The New Arab that under Saudi Arabia's electronic crimes laws the cleric could face a three-year jail sentence and a fine of $130,000 if convicted.

The sectarian comments come as tensions between the Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and its regional rival the Shia-dominated Islamic Republic of Iran have been at an all time high.

Last month, Kuwait shut the Iranian cultural mission and called for a reduction in the number of Iranian diplomats stationed in the country, deepening the rift between the Gulf states and Tehran.

Shia Muslims, who make up about a third of the oil-rich Gulf state's 1.3 million citizens, have complained in the past of discrimination in the Sunni-ruled emirate.

In June 2015, an Islamic State group suicide bomber killed 26 worshippers when he blew himself up in a mosque of Kuwait's Shia minority, in the worst such attack in the country's history.

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