Middle East

Saudi prince sacks TV chief for Muslim Brotherhood ties

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Twitter feed
Image caption Prince Alwaleed tweeted a copy of the letter explaining Mr Suwaidan's dismissal

A well-known Kuwaiti preacher, Tareq al-Suwaidan, has been sacked from his job as the director of a Saudi religious TV channel because of his links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Channel owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said there was no place for Muslim Brotherhood members in his business.

Mr Suwaidan has been a fierce critic of Egypt's military-backed government.

Saudi King Abdullah has, however, given strong backing to the new Egyptian administration.

Prince Alwaleed wrote on his Twitter account that he had dismissed Mr Suwaidan "for admitting he belongs to the Brotherhood terrorist movement".

The preacher had reportedly identified himself as "one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood" during a lecture in Yemen, according to Reuters news agency.

The king's nephew, Prince Alwaleed, wrote in Mr Suwaidan's dismissal letter - which he tweeted a copy of - that the preacher had been warned several times against publicly declaring his political affiliations.

Mr Suwaidan, who is known across the Arab world for his lectures on self-improvement from an Islamic perspective, was the director-general of the Al Risala (The Message) religious channel.

It belongs to Prince Alwaleed's Rotana Group, which is a large pan-Arab media conglomerate based in Riyadh and serves the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Message of support

Mr Suwaidan is one of the Muslim world's richest preachers with more than 1.9 million Twitter followers, says the BBC's Farhana Dawood.

Following the news of his dismissal, the preacher thanked Prince Alwaleed for the opportunity to manage the channel and "for leading it to success" on his Twitter account.

On Friday, Saudi King Abdullah called on all Arabs to stand together against "attempts to destabilise" Egypt, in a message of support for the military leadership.

The country pledged $5bn in aid to Egypt's interim leaders after former Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi was ousted as president at the beginning of July.

Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has been staging daily demonstrations since the security forces cleared two of the group's protest camps in Cairo last week. More than 600 people were killed during the operations, including dozens of security forces personnel.

Mr Suwaidan has written a stream of tweets supportive of Mr Morsi and his followers, and condemning what he calls a "military coup" in Egypt.