While the religious police were busy with detaining salesmen for selling Valentine gifts, King Abdullah removed the chief of the religious police on the banned holiday. The incoming chief, Abdul-Aziz bin Humain is known to be more moderate than his predecessor, Sheik Ibrahim al-Ghaith whose harsh decisions were criticized by many people. The king also dismissed Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, head of the country’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Council of Justice that had recently issued a fatwa allowing killing of the owners of satellite TV stations that broadcast ‘immoral’ shows. Furthermore, the king changed the composition of the Grand Ulama Commission in favour of the more moderate Sunni schools. The 21-member commission, which is in charge of issuing fatwas, was formerly governed by the single hard-line Hanbali sect. Educational changes too are expected, with the appointment of Noura al-Fayez, the first woman ever to serve on the Saudi cabinet, as deputy for girl’s education. All of this is believed to shake up the religious establishment. Read full story here.
Islam and Democracy: Is Modernization a Barrier?
By John O. Voll , Georgetown University
(Vol. 1, November 2006)
By Henry Munson , University of Maine
(Vol. 3, June 2008)