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Saudi religious scholars enraged over Moscow's recent Syria strikes

Saudi ulama would rather see action against Assad than against the Islamic State, but could their stance be seen as a call to jihad?

Russia’s recent military strikes in Syria have inflamed the anger and imagination of Saudi religious scholars.

A consortium of 55 prominent Salafi scholars recently signed a letter titled “Petition of Saudi Ulama With Regard to Russian Aggression on Syria” and posted it on hard-line Salafi scholar Nasir al-Omar’s Web page, al-Moslim. This is not the first time Saudi scholars have addressed the wider regional turmoil and called for solidarity in support of rebels they deem virtuous, Islamic and worthy of transnational Muslim encouragement. Saudi ulama are notorious for inflaming the imaginations of the young when it comes to hot spots they believe are in need of jihad, from Afghanistan in the 1980s to Iraq in 2003 and now in Syria. However, despite their image as dogmatic Wahhabi scholars, they have proven themselves to be as pragmatic as any political entrepreneur.

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