At haj, Saudi Arabia clerics step up anti-Islamic State drive

MINA, Saudi Arabia, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Taking aim at Islamic State, Saudi Arabia has mounted a battle for hearts and minds at this year’s haj, warning pilgrims that the hardline group is “evil” and seeking to recruit their children to fight in Iraq and Syria…

Although Islamic State, like al Qaeda, draws some of its ideology from the Wahhabi school, it rejects the legitimacy of the Saudi government and has vowed to topple the ruling Al Saud dynasty.

Riyadh also fears that thousands of Saudis who have gone to fight with Islamic State will return to target their own country.

“Your religion is targeted. Your security, ideology, strength and intellect are all targeted,” the kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh (pictured above) preached to the vast crowds of pilgrims in Mecca on Friday.

About three million Muslims, among them 1.4 million from abroad, are expected to perform haj this year.

“The enemies of Islam are making preparations against you, so be wary of them,” the Grand Mufti said in his sermon at mount Arafat’s Nimara mosque…