Salafis irate over ban on preacher

Salafis have criticised Kuwait's ministry of interior over its decision to ban the controversial Saudi preacher Mohammed al Arifi from the country.

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KUWAIT CITY // Salafis have criticised the ministry of interior's decision to ban the controversial Saudi preacher, Mohammed al Arifi, from Kuwait after he called Iraq's leading Shiite cleric an "infidel". "Why do we have to involve ourselves in disputes between Saudi and Iraqi clerics," wrote Waleed al Tabtabae, a Salafi MP, in the newspaper Al Watan yesterday, adding that Mr al Arifi was not banned from Qatar or Bahrain.

He said the cleric did not abuse Kuwait's national or religious sentiments, and only those who insulted the Prophet Mohammed, his companions and his wives should be prevented from entering the country. Prominent Islamists who have criticised the ban are scheduled to meet at the premises of the Islamist MP Mohammed al Hayef this evening to discuss their next move. Mr al Tabtabae has already threatened to question the minister of the interior over the decision in parliament.

Mr al Arifi, a preacher at Riyadh's central mosque, called the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani "an infidel and debauched" earlier this month after a Shiite rebel group, the Houthis, chose the cleric to mediate in their political standoff with the Yemeni government. Shiites, who make up about 30 per cent of the population, have criticised Salafis for supporting the Saudi cleric.