Christian bishops in Germany, Austria and Russia have criticised Saudi Arabia's top religious official after reports that he issued a fatwa saying all churches on the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed, said a Reuters report in The West Australian.
In separate statements on Friday, the Roman Catholic bishops in Germany and Austria slammed the ruling by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh as an unacceptable denial of human rights to millions of foreign workers in the Gulf region.
Archbishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, head of the Russian Orthodox department for churches abroad, called the fatwa "alarming" in a statement on Tuesday. Such blunt criticism from mainstream Christian leaders of their Muslim counterparts is very rare.
Christian websites have reported Sheikh Abdulaziz, one of the most influential religious leaders in the Muslim world, issued the fatwa last week in response to a Kuwaiti lawmaker who asked if Kuwait could ban church construction in Kuwait.
Bishop Paul Hinder, who oversees Catholic churches in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yeman, told Catholic news agency KNA that the fatwa had not been widely publicised in Saudi Arabia. "What is worrying is that such statements have influence in part of the population," he said.
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