A Saudi citizen’s tweet that said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is eligible to fill the vacant seat of “Caliph” has sparked debate in Saudi Arabia, where the rector of the country’s largest Islamic university inaccurately accused Turkey’s Prime Minister for opening a “nudity club,” while an official issued an apology.
During the 2nd World Congress for Counter-Terrorism concluded in Medina on April 23, Suleiman Aba al-Khayil, the rector of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, responded angrily while commenting on a tweet by a Saudi citizen who expressed admiration for Turkey and said its prime minister deserves being the Islamic Caliph.
According to the reports in the Saudi media published over the past few days, al-Khayil described Turkey as the most lewd and corrupt country in Europe, while accusing Erdoğan of debauchery and opening of a “nudity club.”
Dr. Ahmed al-Tuwaijri, a member of Shoura Council, criticized the rector on May 2 in an opinion piece for Saudi Gazette, titled “We Apologize to Turkey and Prime Minister Erdoğan.”
“It is unacceptable that the rector has ignored Erdoğan’s ferocious Jihad [struggle], his ministers and political party to build a Muslim state,” al-Tuwaijri said. “I also cannot accept his accusations against Erdoğan, who is known for his good manners, straightforwardness and virtue,” he added.
Asking why the rector involved Erdoğan and his country in his difference of opinion with the Saudi citizen who posted the tweet, al-Tuwaijri argued that the speech hurts Turks and the Turkish Prime Minister, while also being “painful” to Saudis and the Saudi King.
“On behalf of the Saudi people, I sincerely apologize to Turkey and Erdoğan for the unfortunate statements made by an irresponsible university rector who will definitely be penalized for what he has said,” al-Tuwaijri concluded his article.
Al-Monitor columnist Dr. Madawi al-Rasheed, however, argued that the rector’s speech reflects the historical tendency in Saudi Wahhabi Islam in denouncing Turkish Islam.
In an article titled “Saudi Wahhabi leaders see Turkish threat over caliphate,” al-Rasheed suggested al-Khayil’s “obsession with nudity is a typical Wahhabi reaction that sees other Muslims as morally inferior and religiously corrupt.”
“The Saudi politico-religious model is gradually losing its allure among its own constituency,” al-Rasheed wrote, while reassuring the rector that “neither Erdoğan, nor [Saudi] rulers are destined to restore the caliphate, at least in the near future.”