After UAE, Bahrain deals, is Saudi Arabia softening its stance ...

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After UAE, Bahrain deals, is Saudi Arabia softening its stance on Israel?

A recent sermon by an influential Saudi cleric and other pro-Jewish sentiments seem to signify change is afoot

Marwa Rashad and Aziz El Yaakoubi

When one of Saudi Arabia’s leading clerics called this month for Muslims to avoid “passionate emotions and fiery enthusiasm” towards Jews, it was a marked change in tone for someone who has shed tears preaching about Palestine in the past.

The sermon by Abdulrahman al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, broadcast on Saudi state television on September 5, came three weeks after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed a historic deal to normalise relations with Israel and days before the Gulf state of Bahrain, a close Saudi ally, followed suit.

Sudais, who in past sermons prayed for Palestinians to have victory over the “invader and aggressor” Jews, spoke about how the Prophet Mohammad was good to his Jewish neighbour and argued the best way to persuade Jews to convert to Islam was to “treat them well”...

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