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‘Snub jihad calls’

RIYADH, Aug 28, (Agencies): Saudi Arabia’s top Sunni cleric warned Muslim youths to steer clear of “calls for jihad” issued on “perverted” grounds, the official SPA news agency reported Thursday. “Young people should not let themselves be influenced by calls for jihad ... on perverted principles,” said Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, quoted by SPA. “It is a great misfortune that our youths are being exploited to fuel sedition” and lured into war zones “under the pretext of jihad”, he said. Those “endangering the lives” of young Saudis have “disobeyed God and have sinned.”

The mufti, in comments on Aug 18, condemned al-Qaeda and Islamic State jihadists as the “enemy number one” of Islam. On Tuesday, the interior ministry announced eight arrests in northwest Saudi Arabia on suspicion of recruiting young people to join IS operations in Iraq and Syria.

IS jihadists have seized vast swathes of Sunni territory straddling Syria and Iraq. King Abdullah vowed on June 29: “We will not allow a handful of terrorists, using Islam for personal aims, to terrify Muslims or undermine our country and its inhabitants.” The ultra-conservative and largely Sunni kingdom is the home of the religion’s holiest places, Makkah and Madinah.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince will next week visit France and hold talks with French leaders that will touch on the threat posed by Islamic State militants, presidency sources in Paris said Thursday. Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is also deputy prime minister and defence minister of Saudi Arabia, will meet President Francois Hollande on Monday and will be treated to an official dinner at the Elysee presidential palace.

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