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SITE In The News
U.S. Revokes Visa of Cleric at Saudi Embassy
By SITE Institute
Published in: Washington Post
December 7, 2003

Rita Katz, Director of the SITE Institute, was quoted in today's Washington Post discussing Saudi Arabia's efforts to prevent the spread of extremist Islamic doctrine.

U.S. Revokes Visa of Cleric at Saudi Embassy
Monarchy to No Longer Be Islamic Institute's Sponsor

By Susan Schmidt and Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 7, 2003; Page A01

U.S. authorities have revoked the diplomatic visa of an influential Islamic cleric, and the Saudi government has decided it will no longer sponsor an Islamic institute in Virginia where he sometimes lectured, moves that reflect both nations' increasing efforts to curb the spread of extremist Islamic rhetoric, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Jaafar Idris, who was affiliated with the Fairfax-based Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, left the United States two weeks ago after his visa was revoked, U.S. officials said. Idris is a native of Sudan, but was sponsored as a diplomat here by the Saudi embassy and had an office in that embassy's Islamic affairs section, according to a lawyer associated with him.

Idris's departure follows a decision by the Saudi government to stop providing diplomatic status to Islamic clerics and educators teaching overseas, according to a senior Saudi official who declined to be identified. The official said that in the future, only staff with legitimate diplomatic business at Saudi embassies around the world will be given diplomatic visas, part of a larger effort to get Saudi embassies out of the business of promoting religion.

"We are going to shut down the Islamic affairs section in every embassy," the officials said. "That's the objective."

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