Saudi journalist Mohamed Al-Suhaimi said that he was in favor of silencing the microphones in the mosques, saying that the "terrifying" sound of the adhan call to prayer "coming from all directions" bothers people in prayer, scares children, and causes anxiety. "The group of people using the microphones is hostile to our state" and have their own agenda, one of "extremism, fear, and intimidation," he told the Saudi MBC TV channel on February 18. Al-Suhaimi called for a reduction in the number of mosques in the kingdom, saying that "there is a mosque for every citizen in our country." He sarcastically suggested that mosque attendance be encouraged by raffling off the JMC trucks of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice among those attending the dawn prayers. In the wake of these remarks, Saudi media reported that the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information had banned Al-Suhaimi from writing in newspapers and appearing in the media and had demanded that he appear before an investigative committee.
Mohamed Al-Suhaimi: "The Ministry [of Islamic Affairs] has banned the use of microphones [by mosques], on the basis of fatwas by Sheikhs Ibn Al-Uthaymeen and Ibn Baz.
"But this decision was not implemented. How come government employees do not obey a decision by their deputy minister?"
Anchor: "Why do you think that the decision was not implemented?"
Mohamed Al-Suhaimi: "It is because the group of people using the microphones is hostile to our state. They are hostile to our state, in the full sense of the word. They want to embarrass the state: The state makes a decision, but we will do what we want.
"This is done by the Sahwa movement. They conceal such fatwas from the people and bring their own agenda – an agenda of extremism, of fear, and of intimidation. Just imagine how much the sound [of the adhan] bothers the people in prayer, or terrifies little children, when they hear the adhan coming from all directions. The sound is terrifying. It causes anxiety to people in our country. They want the regular people to live in fear..."
Anchor: "It should be noted that some mosques are very close to where people live."
Mohamed Al-Suhaimi: "Absolutely. In addition, with regard to the construction of mosques... I call these mosques 'mosques of dissent.' The Prophet Muhammad demolished a mosque in Medina that had been erected only to oppose the Quba Mosque. The Prophet demolished that mosque because it was harmful to the Quba Mosque. Now we have such 'mosques of dissent' in every neighborhood. The number of mosques should be reduced so more people will attend [each mosque]. The imams are complaining about the low attendance in the mosques. It is because there is a mosque for every citizen in our country. I suggested that they raffle a car among those who attend prayers like Fajr, to which people are usually late. They could hold a raffle and offer one of the JMC trucks of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Those trucks also terrorize and intimidate the people."