A human rights group says some state religious scholars and institutions in Saudi Arabia incite hatred and discrimination against religious minorities, including the countryís Shiite Muslim minority.
A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled "They are not our brothers: Hate Speech by Saudi Officials", released on Tuesday, says Saudi Arabia has permitted regime-appointed clerics to refer to religious minorities in "derogatory terms or demonize them in official documents and religious rulings" that influence government decision-making.
"Saudi Arabia has relentlessly promoted a reform narrative in recent years, yet it allows government-affiliated clerics and textbooks to openly demonize religious minorities such as Shiites," Sarah Leah Whitson, a Middle East director at HRW, said.
HRW cautions that this hate speech prolongs the systematic discrimination against the Shiite minority and is employed by violent groups who attack them.
HRW recently documented derogatory references to other religious affiliations, including Judaism, Christianity, and Sufi Islam in the countryís religious education curriculum.
Often referred to Shiites as rafidha or rawafidh (rejectionists), the regime clerics, all of whom are Wahhabi, also condemned mixing and intermarriage.
Saudi clerics incite anti-Shiite hatred
The report highlights one incident where a member of Saudi Arabiaís Council of Senior Religious Scholars, the countryís highest religious body, replied in a public meeting to a question about Shiite Muslims by saying that "they are not our brothers ... rather they are brothers of Satan ...".
Some religious scholars use language that suggests Shiite Muslims are part of a conspiracy against the state and disloyal by nature. The government tolerates other religious scholars with enormous social media followings, the report found.
The religion curriculum in Saudi Arabia for the 2016-17 school year does not mention Shiite Islam by name, but that it "uses veiled language to stigmatize Shiite religious practices".
For example, Saudi religious education textbooks criticize visiting graves and shrines to venerate important people, which are common practices among Shiite Muslims. The books describe these practices as a form of polytheism.
The textbooks also include similar language towards non-Muslim practices, the report said. Experts critiquing this curriculum have suggested that religious textbooks should instead draw from multiple lines in the Quran that emphasize coexistence, compassion and tolerance.
Wahhabism, ideology followed by terrorists
Wahhabism also referred to as Salafism is the official sect in Saudi Arabia and is also the ideology of all Takfiri terrorist groups in the world especially al-Qaeda ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, etc.
Last July, a British think tank demanded a public inquiry into Saudi Arabiaís funding of Wahhabi extremism in Britain that is fueling terrorism.
A clear and growing link can be drawn between overseas money, which mainly comes from Saudi Arabia, and the recent wave of atrocities in the UK and Europe, the Henry Jackson Society said.
The kingdomís 60-year campaign to export hardline Wahhabism has led to support for mosques and institutions that appear to have links to extremism, the organization said.
Last December, a leaked intelligence report in Germany suggested that Saudi Arabia supports extremist Wahhabi groups in the European country.
The report, by Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency accused Saudi-based Wahhabi organizations of funding mosques, religious schools, hardline preachers and conversion or “dawah” groups to spread the ideology.