SAUDI ARABIA: Cleric who urged grown men to drink breast milk of unrelated women taken off air
No more fatwas for Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, the Saudi cleric and royal court adviser who earlier this year earned notoriety for rolling out an eyebrow-raising religious decree that called on women to give men breast milk to avoid illicit mixing.
Saudi authorities on Wednesday reportedly pulled the plug on Obeikan's radio program "Fatwas on Air," a daily morning show in which Obeikan would go on air and issue fatwas -- religious rulings -- to the public on various matters.
Taking the sheikh off air appears to come as part of Saudi king Abdullah's recent clampdown on the nation's fatwa bazaar.
In a bid to stop unauthorized clerics issuing odd religious decrees, the king has reportedly put out a royal decree authorizing only members of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars to issue fatwas from now on...
... Some perceive the step as much needed. A number of controversial fatwas have embarrassed the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Sheikh Yousuf Ahmad, a lecturer at the Imam Mohammad bin Saud University in Riyadh, earlier this summer suggested that only Muslim maids should be allowed to work in Saudi homes. The cleric has also called for the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site and the world's largest mosque, to be demolished and rebuilt in a way that would ensure segregation between the sexes in the shrine.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, a senior Saudi scholar, hailed the king's decree, saying it would protect Islamic law, sharia, "from infringements of unqualified people who deviate from the path of the Prophet", according to the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper Gulf News.
Others, however, view the king's new restrictions on fatwas as a clampdown on free speech and thought.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: Saudi authorities have shut down the radio show of the controversial cleric Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, who this year earned notoriety for issuing a religious ruling for women to breastfeed men to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes. Credit: Al-Riyadh newspaper.