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Controversial Saudi preacher needs psychiatric help, MBC statement suggests

The Middle East Broadcasting Center’s children entertainment channel MBC3 hit back on Tuesday at a prominent Saudi preacher who urged parents to prevent their kids from watching the channel because its content promotes “atheism and corruption” according to him.

Sheikh Mohammad al-Arifi, known for his controversial statements, wrote in a twitter post, "It is prohibited to enable your child to watch MBC3 children; its scenes are full of ideas of atheism and corruption; remove it now; your child is in your care.”

MBC3 issued a statement describing Arifi's twitter post as "tendentious and far from reality altogether."

The MBC3 statement pointed to a previous seen as preposterous religious edict by Arifi in which he said a daughter should not sit alone with her father for fear that she might tempt him into lusting after her.

"Words cannot describe such mentality and such rationale, especially that it is coming from individuals who should be at the psychiatric hospital to treat abnormal thinking instead of issuing fatwas,” the MBC statement added.

Sheikh Arifi had called on his followers on Twitter to boycott advertisers on MBC channels. Ironically as some commentators may see, the sheikh presents a religious show on another Arab television network which has a similar grid of programming and Western content.

Al-Arifi’s twitter statements have regularly been a source of contention among religious and political circles.

In October, he posted a statement on Twitter describing the Emir of Kuwait as unfit to rule and urged demonstrations against him. In his opinion, Emir Sheikh Sabah does not satisfy the religious conditions of an Islamic ruler.

He later backtracked on his statement following mounting anger against him in Kuwait. In a Twitter post he urged Kuwaitis to “let bygones be bygones.”

Religious figures in the Middle East and in particularly in Saudi Arabia use use social media forums to propagate their religious doctrines and ideas.

Some of those preachers were reportedly “buying” twitter followers in order to boost their public image. The report also said that 25 percent of prominent religious figure Muhammad al-Arifi’s 2.2 million Twitter followers are “unreal” and almost 50 percent others are “inactive.”

MBC3 delivers a programming mix of children's education and entertainment that connects with and stimulates the imagination of Arab kids aged between three and 13.

The channel is part of MBC group, which is the same group that Al Arabiya News Channel belongs to.