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  Updated: July 5, 2008

Saudi Arabia: Shia clerics hit back at extremists

By: Abdulali

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Shia Muslim clerics have criticized an extremist edict from hardline Sunni Muslim counterparts branding them infidels, saying that its authors were suffering from psychological problems.

Last month, a group of 22 extremist Sunni clerics said the Shia branch of Islam was having "infidel precepts".

A prominent moderate Sunni Muslim Saudi cleric met with Shia Muslim leaders last month in an attempt to soothe anger over the edict.

Many government-allied clerics have toned down anti-Shia rhetoric as King Abdullah has promoted "moderation".

In an unusual riposte, 85 Shia clerics and community leaders said: "This sharp tone and discordant voice suffers from psychological complexes and has adopted confrontation and insults as its policy."

"It is this voice that is responsible for the bloody scenes and incidents that have shaken this country," said the statement, referring to a campaign to destabilise the Saudi government launched by al Qaeda sympathisers in 2003.

It said: "We ask our brothers who have wronged us with their fatwas (religious edicts) branding Muslims as infidels to reconsider and re-read the contemporary Shia reality in a responsible manner."                     


 
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