The sun revolves around the Earth, a Saudi cleric insisted to a student panel Sunday – prompting a social media storm.
Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari told a student that the Earth is "stationary and does not move," according to Al-Arabiya, justifying the statement with religious texts and statements.
But then he tried to debunk the common knowledge about the Earth's rotation using "logic," in a visual demonstration that prompted the speech to go viral.
“First of all, where are we now?" he asked. "We go to Sharjah airport to travel to China by plane, clear?!"
Khaibari argued, confusingly, that the Earth cannot rotate because it would render air travel impossible.
If a plane stops still in air, he said, and the Earth rotated, than China would either be moving toward it or moving away from it, and "the plane would never reach China" because "China is also rotating."
The exchange prompted a viral hashtag in Arabic on Twitter, translated loosely by the news agency as #cleric_rejects_rotation_of_Earth.
One student pointed out on the social network that the speech had been given on February 15 – Galileo Galilei's birthday.
Religious and political officials in Muslim countries have made such outrageous claims before.
In November, the Turkish Science Minister insisted that "Muslims discovered the Earth was round," instead of Galileo – or the plethora of Western and Eastern thinkers, astronomers, and cartographers who preceded him.
Weeks earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Muslims discovered America.