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Well done Sheikh Ahmad Al-Ghamdi!

The former head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) in Makkah region, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Ghamdi, has been receiving death threats since he issued an edict saying that it was permissible for women to reveal their face in public and after he openly supported the right of women to drive.

Al-Ghamdi is no stranger to threats and has been the object of venomous attacks in the past. 

His views about the hijab, television and other social issues have also put him in the spotlight in the past.

The number of his critics is now increasing and the campaign against him has intensified to a great extent. 

All the hardliners have joined the bandwagon against him said a Jeddah resident. They want to reduce religion to growing beards and wearing short thobes added another man quoting Al-Ghamdi.

What is really shocking to many is the open and very public threats and attacks against him. 

Social media is being used on all fronts with personnel attacks that would constitute calumny in the West.

Hate mail campaigns have reached a crescendo and, personally, I fear that this might prompt some misguided and unbalanced person to actually attempt to physically attack Al-Ghamdi.

What does all this mean? This violent phenomenon reflects a malaise in our society. It points to intolerance and bigotry and a host of other social illnesses. 

It shows the dangerous extent of the extremist ideology that has crept into our society. 

These extremists have given themselves the right to attack anyone who disagrees with their views. 

They have forgotten the Qura’nic verse: “There is no compulsion in religion…to you, your religion and to me mine.”

And while this verse is supposed to address other believers, yet we ourselves do not abide by it in our own society. 

It is time that we all show support for Al-Ghamdi for his brave stand against the extremists among us. 

It took a lot of guts to stand up to the obscurantists among us. Why should we be forced to adopt a lifestyle that is not ours? No one should have the right to impose an ideology that is rejected and unacceptable to all. 

We have had enough. We do not want to be bullied and continue to live in fear. We do not want our lives to be controlled by individuals who apply tribal customs and portray it as religion. 

There is no clergy in Islam. We are all equal before God. Those self-appointed guardians of Islam should understand that we are all Muslims in this country; we believe in God, and we are well aware of our religion’s restraints. 

We will act according to the dictates of our Muslim values and religious principles that are moderate, humane and spiritual. 

Well done Sheikh Ahmad Al-Ghamdi and may God protect you and keep you safe.


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