A group of Saudi clerics has come out in support of a colleague who issued a fatwa saying two writers deserve to die if they did not retract views that he said made them apostates.
Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, one of the kingdom’s most revered clerics, said in a rare fatwa last week the columnists should be tried for apostasy for “heretical articles” published in al-Riyadh newspaper and put to death if they do not repent.
They questioned the Sunni Muslim view in Saudi Arabia that adherents of other faiths should be considered unbelievers, which Barrak said implied Muslims were free to follow other religions and their faith was on a par with other religions.
A group of 20 clerics, all associated with Barrak, issued a statement on Tuesday asking God to support him in the face of a ”wicked attack” by liberals with “polluted beliefs”.
”We know the Sheikh’s knowledge in religion and status in the Islamic nation and trust Muslims place in his opinions ... The fatwa is based on the book of God (Koran) and the path of the Prophet,” they said in the statement posted on Web sites.
“The Sheikh’s words were clear in placing the issue in the hands of the temporal authorities when he said that there must be a trial. We affirm there should be a trial.”
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