Sunday, 15 February 2009

Saudi reshuffle points to more liberal future

The King of Saudi Arabia had a government re-shuffle, dismissing two powerful religious figures, namely the chief of the religious police and an outspoken cleric. Also, he appointed a woman to serve as a deputy cabinet minister, responsible for female education.

The changes are particularly seen as a message to the religious harliners, particularly in the mutwa religeous police force.

The changes included a reconfiguration of the Grand Ulema Commission, an influential body of religious scholars from all branches of Sunni Islam. In the past, the commission had been dominated by clerics from the austere Hanbali school, but now moderates will be represented. There were also changes to the Saudi military establishment.

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