Manama: Saudi businessman and investor Al Waleed Bin Talal has fired the manager of a television station after he admitted he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a letter addressed to Tariq Al Suwaidan, the manager of Al Risala (The Message), Al Waleed reportedly said that there was no room for any Muslim Brotherhood member in his group. Al Waleed heads the TV station's board.
According to Saudi media, Al Waleed said that Al Suwaidan, 59, had violated the policy of the station against affiliation with any party.
Reacting to the news of his dismissal, Al Suwaidan said he had been honoured to lead the station into moderation and success.
Al Risala has slots on the Arabsat and Nilesat satellites and serves the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
“I thank HRH Prince Al Waleed on this great opportunity that I was honoured to have to manage Al Risala channel and achieve its current levels of moderation and success that will, God willing, continue,” Al Suwaidan wrote on Twitter. “We have built Al Risala Channel according to high professional standards and clear principles and criteria and through an outstanding and fully integrated team. It does not depend on a single person. I wish everyone success and urge them to support the channel."
“Only those who do not rely on God fear about livelihood and only those who are concerned only about life are ready to give up their principles,” he added.
Al Suwaidan does not fit the stereotypical image of a bearded, grim religious leader.
The prominent 59-year-old Kuwaiti Islamist and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait is also an entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, and TV personality with shows ranking among the highest in Middle East satellite channels ratings.
He is also a management, leadership and strategic planning consultant and is often consulted by prominent regional governmental and private sector organisations.
Al Suwaidan studied in the United States and received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree and PhD in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa.
Describing himself as a “moderate Islamist”, he has often called for peace and understanding with Christian leaders, supported women’s rights within the Islamic sharia law and pushed for reforming the traditional understanding of Islam.
His popularity is based on the more than 30 books he authored and on his social media activity. He has posted close to 10,000 tweets and his account on Twitter has over 1.9 million followers. His Facebook page has over 1,208,203 “likes.”
In his lectures, he often defended individual freedom as a major principle in Islam as long as “it is in a polite manner and without hurting others.”