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January 10, 2018

INSHALLAH: Mohammed bin Salman’s Next Saudi Challenge: Curtailing Ultraconservative Islam.

Last month, authorities detained a senior prince, Khaled bin Talal, for opposing the government’s reforms such as the decision to curb the power of the religious police, according to people familiar with the matter.

“He was complaining about the reforms. He thought that would give him [political] credibility,” said a person briefed on the event. The prince, who has limited political clout, is kept at the high-security prison of al-Ha’ir.

Since the clampdown, many clerics have publicly endorsed the social reforms, while others have kept silent. “They are government decisions and it is part of our religion to accept that,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Hodithy, 87, who until his retirement was the chief justice in Asir region.

The government is also setting up a new center to vet the interpretations of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, or hadiths, in a bid to prevent the teachings from being used to justify violence.

“It will purify Islam from any inventions, clean the hadiths from the liars’ deliberate misquotations and present Islam in a better image,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Hassan al-Sheikh, the chairman of the new entity and a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, the kingdom’s highest religious body.

I keep waiting for the other — bloody — shoe to drop. So far though, bin Salman seems to have put the fear of God, so to speak, into the Kingdom’s religious leadership.