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Saudi Arabia

Saudi King orders that a columnist is dismissed after comparison with Allah

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered that a newspaper columnist is suspended from the al-Jazirah newspaper after the columnist compared him to God.

The newspaper column written by Ramadan al-Anzi described King Salman as “Haleem” or forbearing and “Shadeed al-Eqab”, which means strict in punishment. The terms are both associated with God in Islam.

Giving divine qualities or any of the 99 names of God to individuals is frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. While the qualities are praise and complimentary King Salman isn’t keen to accept them.

The newspaper issued an apology over what they said was an “unintentional mistake”

In a statement the newspaper said:  “The phrases and tribute which the author bestowed on the personality of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, are not acceptable, despite what God had bestowed upon him, may God protect him, of the honour of serving the two holy mosques, Islam, the homeland and the people.”

Saudi media are reporting that King Salman also ordered action to be taken against the offending newspaper however no specifics were given.

In a letter to Information Minister Awad Bin Saleh Al Awad, King Salman expressed his shock at the expressions used in the column.

King Salman said: “Such a matter has disturbed us and we cannot accept or tolerate it. We do not want it and we do not acknowledge it. We are well aware of the seriousness and danger of being lenient towards it.”

“All newspapers and media should be fully aware that such matters must not be published and that all those who do not comply will be held accountable.”