Oopsie! Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Arifi made a splash last week when it claimed, in an Al-Jazeera TV interview, that Usama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had received a bad rap, that criticism of their actions was unfair.

After learning a bit more about the issue — I wonder whether he got a tap on the shoulder or was impressed by the flood of critical social media — he sent a tweet acknowledging that he was wrong. Yes, the extreme wing of Islam from which Al-Qaeda operates does engage in takfir; yes, it does shed innocent blood.

It’s good to see him admit he was wrong. Too many, when cornered, double-down on their mistakes and strive to find any evidence they can to bolster their prior belief. People, because they are people, do make mistakes, even Saudi clerics.

Controversial Saudi cleric backtracks on his defence of Osama Bin Laden
Al Arabiya

Prominent Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Arifi backtracked on Saturday on controversial statements he made this week on Qatar’s Al Jazeera television in which he defended slain al-Qaeda leader Oussama Bin Laden.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Arifi, a professor at King Saudi University, cited a saying by Omar bin Khattab, the second Caliph of Islam, saying that a man can review his mind from previously taken decisions and ‘return to righteousness.’ Arifi made the connection of his tweet to his previous saying on al-Qaeda.

In his television interview with Al Jazeera, Arifi said Osama Bin Laden (who he referred to as “Sheikh Oussama” and prayed for his soul to be blessed) was a victim of wide-level character assassination.


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