Prominent Cleric Suspended, Fined for Criticizing Palestinian Authority

Backdropped by a mosque minaret Palestinians watch the funeral of Mohammed Al Amma, 17, in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, Saturday, June 28, 2008. Al Amma was shot and killed by Israel troops during clashes in the village early Saturday morning, Palestinian medical sources said. (AP …
AP/Kevin Frayer

TEL AVIV — The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religion has suspended Muhammad Abahreh, the preacher at the biggest mosque in Jenin in the northern West Bank, after he accused the leadership of the PA of treachery in his sermon last Friday.

The ministry decided to fine Abahreh a percentage of his salary for making political statements in his weekly sermon, which violates the orders of the PA forbidding preachers from speaking on political issues.

Sources in the sheikh’s town of Yamoon told Palestinian media that administrators at the Ministry of Religion brought Abahreh in for questioning and informed him that he would be suspended and that 500 shekels ($150) would be deducted from his salary. The decision of the Palestinian ministry sparked anger among Palestinians, especially on social media.

A relative of Abahreh told Breitbart Jerusalem that the Palestinian Authority and the Ministry of Religion accused the sheikh of implying that the government was treacherous in its handling of the conflict with Israel and its actions to prevent attacks against the Jewish state.

According to the relative, the PA claimed that the sheikh’s sermon about treason was directed at the PA security forces who saved two Israeli soldiers, a man and a woman, who mistakenly entered Jenin, from being lynched by locals. After the incident, many Palestinians took to calling the PA treasonous.

Many on social media were against the decision to suspend Abahreh.

“In Jenin, the sheikh Muhammad Abahreh gave a sermon about treachery and traitors,” tweeted the religious account Follow Help. “His work as a preacher has been ended and he was fined 500 shekels from his salary. Next Friday an Israeli rabbi will come give the sermon to please the PA.”

Palestinian cleric Ahmad Nawahda made a similar remark, tweeting, “After the work of sheikh Muhammad Abahreh has been ended because he spoke about treason, a Jewish rabbi will come to us to give the Friday sermon.”

“Because the leadership is infected with it (treason) … they forbid the people in the West Bank from talking about treason…!” Gazan academic Soubhi Abu al-Hissin wrote on his Twitter account. “The religion ministry in Jenin under Abbas’ PA has decided to stop the work of the sheikh Muhammad Abahreh, the imam of the biggest mosque in Jenin, and prevent him from giving sermons because of his sermon on treason and they’re taking 500 shekels from his salary…!”

Kuwaiti journalist Muhammad al-Fouzan tweeted, “He won’t mention them (members of the PA), but between them and themselves they know they are traitors. The hat is burning on the head of the thief.”


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