Watch: Saudi Imam Faces Dismissal for End-of-Ramadan Party At Mosque

A muslim imam prays in the mosque in downtown Sofia on April 5, 2013. Bulgaria is hoping to stop protest-driven suicides, including self-immolations, that have swept the country in recent weeks by organising prayers for all faiths and free psychological counselling.
NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty

A Saudi imam risks losing his job after a video of an animated end-of-Ramadan celebration he organized inside a mosque sparked controversy in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Traditional as well as social media in Saudi Arabia debated whether singing and dancing inside a mosque amounts to blasphemy, even though the music in question was traditional and its content religious.

The Religions Ministry said in a statement that the imam is likely to face dismissal because his behavior was “unbecoming of representatives of Allah. The mosques are to fulfill the purpose they were built for.”

On social media, users flocked to the newly minted hashtag #dancing_in_mosque mainly to criticize the imam for desecrating his mosque.

The controversy reached such gigantic proportions that the Higher Council of Sages weighed in, releasing a statement on Twitter that “a mosque is for the sole purposes of serving God, praying, learning the Quran and Islamic teachings, and nothing more.”
Muhamad Almari tweeted that “Shilat [traditional Islamic music] and songs are two sides of the same coin. It’s entertainment and therefore both are prohibited.”
“It’s a foreign and impertinent demeanor that disrespects the house of Allah,” Suliman wrote. “The Ministry of Religions must do its utmost to deter similar controversies.”
Ahmad said the idea shouldn’t be ruled out, “because times are changing. I don’t necessarily support what he did, but if it had been organized and supervised by the Religions Ministry, it would be a good thing.”
Dr Khaled wrote: “Dancing inside a mosque is what we’ll see once they are full of worshipers. I swear to Allah three times that this is a shameful sight that makes my heart cry.”
“If this thing goes unpunished,” Mohammed wrote, “I swear to you, we have nothing good left in us. Every single participant in this shameful party should be punished.”
Conservative twitterati seized the opportunity to blast the lack of activity by the Religions Ministry’s supervision committee as the cause of the “shame.”

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