Saudi Arabia Announces Controversial Rules for Ramadan
The Saudi Arabian government has released a list of rules and restrictions for the holy month of Ramadan. The ten-point plan, announced by the Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdul Latif Al-Sheikh, includes directives on mosque activities, prayer rituals, and seclusion during the last ten days of Ramadan.
One of the rules is the restriction on the use of loudspeakers in mosques, limiting the volume and frequency of the call to prayer. The government has also banned the recording or broadcasting of prayers within mosques and prohibited parents from bringing their children to prayer services. The restrictions extend to the use of cameras in mosques and the collection of donations for meal services for fasting people.
Bin Salman announces new orders to restrict Ramadan in #SaudiArabia:
– No loudspeakers
– No broadcast of prayers
– No itikaf without ID (state surveillance on the 'zealous')
– Keep prayers short
– No collecting donations
– No kids in mosques for prayers
– No iftar inside mosques pic.twitter.com/D8KBMzIzXo
— Sami Hamdi سامي الهاشمي الحامدي (@SALHACHIMI) March 7, 2023
The government has justified the measures as necessary for public health and safety, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, critics argue that the restrictions infringe on religious freedom and represent an attempt to limit the influence of Islam in public life.
Many Muslims have expressed outrage and disappointment over the restrictions, which they see as a departure from traditional Ramadan practices. Some have called for a boycott of Saudi Arabia and its businesses, while others have urged the government to reconsider its decision.
أصدر معالي وزير الشؤون الإسلامية د.#عبداللطيف_آل_الشيخ تعميمًا لكافة فروع الوزارة بضرورة تهيئة المساجد والجوامع لمايخدم المصلين، وذلك ضمن استعدادات الوزارة لاستقبال شهر #رمضان المبارك لهذا العام ١٤٤٤هـ. pic.twitter.com/9Q4x9CWWPE
— وزارة الشؤون الإسلامية 🇸🇦 (@Saudi_Moia) March 3, 2023
The announcement comes amid a broader push by the Saudi government, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to modernize and reform the country’s religious institutions. The government has previously relaxed restrictions on women’s rights and pursued economic diversification efforts, but critics argue that these reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent and human rights abuses.
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