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ANHRI concerned over professor's description of journalists as "soldiers of Satan"

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 14 July 2010, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned statements against journalists made by Abdel Rahman AlBarrak, a professor of religion at the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh. AlBarrak described journalists as "soldiers of Satan" owing to his expectation that they would be critical of a hard line fatwa he issued calling for Muslim women to cover their faces, even in front of other women.

AlBarrak made a statement to the media about the fatwa, saying, "Muslim women should wear veils that cover their faces, including in the presence of other women." He added that the fatwa was sure to stir "the soldiers of Satan" against him, in reference to journalists, and that he expected criticism for the extremist resolution.

ANHRI stated, "Advocates of religious extremism in Saudi Arabia are still not content after having created two separate communities within Saudi society, one for men and another for women. They still endeavour to implement more eccentric measures by compelling women to wear the hijab, even when they are with other women, and launching a preemptive attack against any critical voices, particularly journalists."

The network is dismayed by AlBarrak's attempt to intimidate journalists in an effort to force them to be silent and refrain from criticising the fatwa. The goal of his description of reform advocates as "soldiers of Satan" is to prevent criticism as well as stir hatred against his critics, while hiding behind Islam.

ANHRI called on the remaining reform advocates who have not been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia to respond to AlBarrak's allegations and his fatwa against women, and also to defend journalists, who are the conscience and voice of the people, not "soldiers of Satan".

The network added, "The only interpretation one can have of the imprisonment of reformers without trial in Saudi Arabia and the giving of advocates of extremism and intolerance a free hand in society is that they have the blessings of the Saudi government to go ahead and propagate hate speech, which is unacceptable in form and substance."

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