The editor of the leading Saudi newspaper AlWatan has been fired by the Ministry of Interior, according to emerging reports from the desert kingdom.

Jamal Khashoggi was fired from AlWatan few days after the infamous Minister of Interior, Naif Bin Abdulaziz, assailed the newspaper and questioned its goals in a conference for the religious police chaired by Naif.

Khashoggi was previously fired from his post as an editor of AlWatan, one month after he took the position in 2003. The first firing came after the paper published an article criticizing Ibn Taymiyya, a medieval Sunni cleric who inspired the Wahhabi movement. Ibn Taymiyya is seen as a major figure in Salafi/Wahhabi Islam, is widely quoted by Saudi government clerics, and his work is printed by leading members of the Saudi ruling family.

Khashoggi worked previously as a Saudi diplomat and media advisor to his long-time friend Turki Faisal Al-Saud, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington and head of intelligence for 24 years. He also served with the Saudi Intelligence in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, and possibly the United States, buying off US-based Arab reporters and TV stations.

Khashoggi also worked with several newspapers including, the English Arab News, AlHayat, and AlMoslmoon. The firing comes at the heels of the fourth anniversary -according to Arabic calendar- of the formal ascension of King Abdullah to the throne. The absolute monarch has been hailed by the US administrations as a reformer. President Obama praised the king for his wisdom and his religious tolerance during his trip to Riyadh and Cairo early this month.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world leading violators of human rights and religious freedom. The local media is controlled by the government. The Ministry of Interior appoints and removes newspaper editors, deputy editors, and assistant editors. The religious police is a militia organized by the government from the rank of religious zealots, and receive strong support from the King, Naif and the ruling family in general.

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