Saudi cleric Adel Al-Kalbani, the former imam at Great Mosque of Mecca, said in a March 22, 2019 interview on MBC TV (Saudi Arabia) that he recently changed his mind regarding Shi'ite Muslims and that he no longer considers them to be heretics. He also said that if the Christchurch, NZ shooter had been Muslim, a ferocious war would have been waged against Muslims, like many wars in the past because of incidents that he said Muslims had nothing to do with. He said, however, that since the shooter wasn't Muslim, New Zealand's Prime Minister wore a hijab and the Quran was recited in Parliament. Al-Kalbani went on to say that all the major incidents of terrorism throughout the world – including attacks against Muslims – were carried out by Muslims. He also said that Arabs and Muslims should take more initiative regarding technologies and trends coming from the West, such as cinemas and allowing women to drive, neither of which he said led to catastrophe like critics had predicted. He added: "Islam was not meant to make our lives hard."
Interviewer: "Do you still consider the Shi'ite scholars to be heretics, or have you changed your mind?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "The truth is that, until recently, I did..."
Interviewer: "You considered Shi'ite scholars to be heretic?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "Yes.
"Generally speaking, anybody who says that there is no god but Allah, who eats the meat of animals slaughtered by us, and who prays in the same direction of prayer as us is a Muslim. Specific cases should be referred to the judiciary."
Interviewer: "This is a very important issue, Sheikh Adel..."
Adel Al-Kalbani: "This is what I think today. By Allah, no one forced me to say this and no one talked to me about this.
"If the killer [in New Zealand] had been a Muslim, a ferocious war would have been waged against us, like many wars in the past that have been waged against us because of incidents we had nothing to do with. Now they recite the call to prayer [in New Zealand]. In addition, the prime minister [of New Zealand] donned a hijab, the Quran was recited in the parliament, and people all over the world expressed solidarity with the victims."
Interviewer: "But this is New Zealand's society coming together. They are used to this kind of connection."
Adel Al-Kalbani: "In my opinion, if [the killer] had been a Muslim, things would be different."
Interviewer: "Why do you say that violence and terrorism are so deeply ingrained in Muslims?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "This is not what I meant. However, the major incidents [of terrorism] were all committed by Muslims. Isn't that so?"
Interviewer: "This is your opinion."
Adel Al-Kalbani: "This is my opinion, and this is reality. The major incidents [of terrorism]... Who is blamed for 9/11? The Muslims. [September 11] caused a huge setback in our da'wa and in many other fields, and it was carried out by Muslims. All those who were killed in our beloved Kingdom were killed by Muslims. All the terror attacks [in Saudi Arabia] were carried out by Muslims. Today, our mosques are guarded on Fridays, after the attacks [at the mosques] in Al-Qudaih, Dammam, and the mosque in Kuwait City. We now have to be protected from Muslims, who come into the mosque with their beards and short robes, pray near us, and then try to get close to Allah by killing us.
"We should take initiative with many things coming to us [from the West]. For example, I once spoke about cinemas, and I was attacked for that. Now cinemas have become a reality and a very natural part of our lives. Or take the issue of women driving... From all the talk I heard, I imagined that there would be huge sex scandals in the streets... Women started driving [in Saudi Arabia] and nothing happened, thanks be to Allah. Of course there are going to be accidents, just like in any other society.
"Islam was not meant to make our lives hard."