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Saudi Arabia clerics condemn terrorism

[JURIST] Saudi Arabia's top clerical council on Wednesday issued a statement calling terrorism a "heinous crime" under Sharia and saying that clerics who issue religious edicts justifying terrorism should be tried in court. It also stated [Reuters report] that it supports the kingdom's efforts to find and punish followers of the Islamic State group and al Qaeda [JURIST news archives], making this the most comprehensive attack the conservative clergy has made against Islamic radicalism. Saudi Arabia promised its support [AP report] in the international efforts to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria following a visit from US Secretary of State John Kerry. The scholars said those causing or financing conflict and terrorism commit "one of the greatest sins," which is "disobeying the ruler." They went on to say that any Muslim who thinks that joining a terrorist group is right and justified "is ignorant and has gone astray."

In an effort to combat the heightened threat of terrorism, Saudi Arabia recently ratified [JURIST report] new counterterrorism laws, amid heavy criticism [JURIST report] from international rights groups. JURIST Guest Columnist Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] argued [JURIST op-ed] that Saudi Arabia's new terrorism law is a vague, catch-all document that can—and probably will—be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way. In February Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the Saudi Arabian counterterrorism law because the law will deepen existing patterns of human rights violations and will be used to crack down on peaceful dissent. In December HRW urged [JURIST report] Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to reject the counterterrorism bill before it became law, arguing that many fundamental human rights would be threatened.

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