RIYADH – The Saudi government has promised to sponsor the boxing championship, where celebrities who support Israel may also join, which has sparked criticism against the government, says Emad al-Moubayed former imam of King Abdul Aziz Mosque.
The former Imam of King Abdul Aziz mosque in Saudi Arabia has spoken out against the government’s priorities, claiming they are neglecting the crisis in Gaza while spending money on entertainment. The government’s plan for a boxing event with global celebrities has sparked controversy following the former imam’s speech.
According to Imam Emad al-Moubayed, the government’s stance on entertainment and mixed-gender events is totally against Islamic principles, which will indeed divert the nation’s attention from the issue of Palestine and the genocide in Gaza.
The former imam’s video message surfaced after Saudi Arabia agreed to sponsor a boxing event featuring celebrities who also support the Israeli occupation.
He argued that such events distract from critical national and religious concerns, destroying the image of the holy land. He further emphasized that the land of Saudi Arabia is the holiest land where revelations have taken place. It is indeed the land of prophets and the land of messages.
The respected former imam, known for his powerful speeches, urged decision-makers to cease such actions and prevent corruption among youth and society. His criticism has stirred mixed reactions on social media, with some praising his courage and others condemning him for spreading hatred.
This is not the first time when Sheikh Emad spoke against the government. He also fled to the UK after making the remarks earlier in March 2023.
The Imam’s words align with heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine, reflecting broader dissatisfaction in Saudi society, particularly among religious conservatives. They feel the government is drifting away from Islamic values, becoming more secular and liberal.
This criticism poses challenges for the Saudi government, forcing it to consider how to balance modernization with the preservation of Islamic identity. It raises questions about handling internal and external opposition to its policies, emphasizing the need to address the concerns of Muslims and stand with fellow Muslims in Palestine.
Update November 21th, 9:28AM ET: The article updated with additional details, such as the name of the imam, a tweet and a background.