Sunday, July 8, 2007

Saudi fatwa against liberals raises fears of violence

RIYADH (Reuters) - A religious edict by a prominent Saudi cleric suggesting liberals are not real Muslims has enflamed debate over reforms in the conservative Islamic state, with self-professed liberals fearing they will be attacked.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that rules by strict application of Islamic law, giving clerics a powerful position in society, but Islamists fear that liberal reformers are gaining ground under the rule of King Abdullah.

Responding to an online request for a religious edict, or fatwa, Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan said last month: "Calling oneself a liberal Muslim is a contradiction in terms ... one should repent before God for such ideas in order to be a real Muslim."

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