Saudi Arabia has the
largest number of Islamic conservative clergy in the world. The government pays
a lot of attention to keeping these guys under some form of control. To that
end, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs has recently hired 270 inspectors, to keep
an eye on the clergy. There are 58,110 mosques in Saudi Arabia, although only
11,806 have congregations large enough to have regular services each Friday.
This is when radical preachers try to incite people, and that's what the
inspectors will be looking out for. Before the inspectors were hired, the
Ministry of Islamic Affairs relied on tips from concerned citizens. This worked
pretty well, and will continue to provide the inspectors with leads to
preachers who are talking trash.
In the last half century of oil boom,
it was very popular to build mosques in Saudi Arabia. It got a little out of
hand, with there now being one mosque for every 400 or so Saudis. Most are
basically abandoned, serving mainly to provide work for government employees
who act as caretakers.
As is the case elsewhere in the Moslem
world, most Islamic terrorists get their start in a mosque dominated by radical
clergy. For a long time, the government let the radical clerics do whatever
they wanted, as long as they kept it peaceful and within the kingdom. That
approach kept most Saudis on the side of the government when it came time to
discipline a cleric who crossed the line. But it also led to the founding of al
Qaeda, and 15 or the 19 September 11, 2001 attackers being Saudi. Since then,
it's been clear that the kingdom cannot continue to export its problems. The
Ministry of Islamic Affairs is under new management, and the new policy is to
curb radical teaching and preaching, or else. Preachers who do not conform can
be fired from their jobs, jailed, or even executed.