Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah - the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia - called for the destruction of Christian churches currently located in the Arabian Peninsula. Speaking on March 17, the Muslim religious leader said that it is absolutely necessary and required by Islamic law. He is the highest religious authority in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He also serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas. Fatwas are religious findings that may include the death penalty for Muslims and non-Muslims for breaking Islamic law. 
 
In February, Osama Al-Munawer, a Kuwaiti member of parliament, announced plans for legislation that would call for removing of churches in the oil-rich country, according to the Arabian Businesses news site. However, Al-Munawer later clarified that the law would only apply to new churches, while old ones would be allowed to stay erect.
 
Commenting on the finding by Sheikh Abdullah, Rev. Alexander Lucie-Smith - a Catholic theologian and consulting editor of the UK-based Catholic Herald - wrote "The Vatican has no diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it cannot have diplomatic relations with any state that does not recognise freedom of religion. I am an official Catholic theologian, though my fatwas never quite get the attention I feel they deserve. The Mufti has repeated himself, and so will I. The West should show it is serious about human rights and disrupt diplomatic and cultural relations with the Saudis. This is a moral necessity. Until we do so, we are exposed as hypocrites." 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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