Talk about being killed in action...when your weapon is only your pen...
Clerics Back Death Fatwa For Writers
Riyadh: A group of Saudi clerics has come out in support of a colleague who issued a fatwa saying two writers deserve to die if they did not retract views that he said made them apostates.
Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al Barrak, one of the kingdom's most revered clerics, said in a rare fatwa last week the columnists should be tried for apostasy for "heretical articles" published in Al Riyadh newspaper and put to death if they do not repent.
They questioned the Sunni view in Saudi Arabia that adherents of other faiths should be considered unbelievers, which Al Barrak said implied Muslims were free to follow other religions and their faith was on a par with other religions.
A group of 20 clerics, all associated with Al Barrak, issued a statement asking God to support him in the face of a "wicked attack" by liberals with "polluted beliefs".
"We know the Shaikh's knowledge in religion and status in the Islamic nation and trust Muslims place in his opinions ... The fatwa is based on the book of God [Quran] and the path of the Prophet [PBUH]," they said in the statement posted on websites.
"The Shaikh's words were clear in placing the issue in the hands of the temporal authorities when he said that there must be a trial. We affirm there should be a trial."
Liberal reformers are engaged in a battle with religious hardliners over the direction of the country.
"This is in my view the largest show of force in the Wahhabi movement in a long time," said Ali Al Ahmad, a Saudi opposition figure based in Washington.