The imams were suspended for preaching violent jihad:
After secretly monitoring thousands of sermons over the past few months, ministry spokesman Salih al-Sadlan confirmed the suspensions due to “various flaws and shortcomings” in what imams told mosque-goers.
A professor of law at Riyadh’s Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, al-Sadlan said the advisory committee would hold seminars in every region of the kingdom to correct “frequent mistakes” in Friday sermons. . . .
It was not clear when the Islamic officials were suspended, but the government has tried to rein in those who refuse to toe a moderate line. . . .
Authorities also suspended 1357 religious officials from their duties last year.
It also ordered them to undergo training in accordance with a programme introduced by the Islamic affairs minister to boost the performance of mosque employees.
Those officially suspended from duties included 517 imams, 90 Friday preachers and 750 callers to prayer.
They were all instructed to undergo “theological training” to be able to work more efficiently at mosques.
Saudi Arabia employs about 80,000 people – including part-time preachers – at tens of thousands of mosques run by the government.
The kingdom’s religious establishment has come under fire, particularly in the US, for allegedly fuelling the kind of thinking that led to the 11 September 2001 attacks, in which 15 of 19 presumed hijackers were Saudi.
Let’s see. 900 imams this year, 517 last year, plus 840 others. That’s around 2200 people. Out of 80,000. I guess it really is a tiny minority of extremists — unless, of course, others are in place who are teaching the same things, which seems likely.