From Middle East Times
Two Malaysian Hindu men Thursday said that they were battling Islamic authorities after being forcibly separated from their Muslim wives in cases highlighting growing religious tensions here. Suresh Veerapan issued a plea for help after his wife Revathi Masoosai and their baby were forcibly removed from their home and she was put in an Islamic rehabilitation camp in western Malacca state. Her detention was extended Wednesday by a Sharia court by 80 days, Suresh said, adding that Islamic authorities in March had also taken the 16-month-old baby from him and given the child to his Muslim in-laws ... Revathi's detention is the latest in a string of religious conflicts involving Muslims and non-Muslims that have sparked outrage in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
From Middle East Times
From The Times of India
Under attack from fundamentalists back home for hugging her male French paratrooping trainer, Pakistan Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar on Thursday said she was "not at all worried" about the fatwa issued against her ... While speaking at the standing committee of Pakistan Parliament on issues relating to tourism ministry last week, Bakhtiar had said extremist elements had already killed Zille Huma, a provincial minister of Punjab, for her activism and she feared the same could happen to her.
From Peter Karamitsos at The Wall Street Journal
Bret Stephens's April 17 Global View The Arab Invasion on the Arab influences on Indonesian Muslims was rather disturbing. How many more examples do we need of the pernicious effects of the Saudi brand of Islam, Wahhabism, before we crack down on that regime to get them to stop exporting this hate? We can argue about the effect our invasion of Iraq or other efforts in our war on Islamo-fascists has on terrorist recruitment, but I think we can all agree that this brand of Islam that indoctrinates hatred in small children and preaches violence as a means to advance their faith needs to be stopped before we can have any long-term success.
From MENAFN Press
Saudi based Construction Products Holding Company (CPC) today signed a 3-year contract worth EUR50 million with Saudi Binladin Group, the main contractor of Dakar International Airport in Senegal, to supply steel, aluminum, marble, granite and decoration wood ... Consolidating its presence in the region, CPC has complemented a manufacturing hub to its industrial network in Abu Dhabi in partnership with Arkan Company in UAE. CPC-Arkan synergy will initially establish six specialized factories worth SR750 million (US$200 million), and will meet a substantial demand of construction products in the GCC markets.
From Alex Malouf at IT-Arabia.com
The ugly specter of piracy has again reared its head in Saudi Arabia. For the first two days and nights of Gitex Riyadh, software pirates have been out in force selling their wares to the general public only 100 yards away from the entrance to the largest technology exhibition in the Kingdom ... With the Kingdom suffering from the highest piracy levels in the GCC, software vendors, the business software alliance, and other anti-piracy groups have been pushing for the country’s governmental bodies to take more action on the issue following its accession to the WTO. Despite repeated requests to bodies including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, software firms are still suffering from a lack of legal enforcement on the ground.
From The Media Line
Saudi authorities have announced the arrest of eight people in connection with the killing of three French nationals on February 26 ... Three French people were killed and one was wounded in the February drive-by shooting in northwest Saudi Arabia. The French group included nine people, some of whom were Muslims who were planning to head to Mecca for a pilgrimage. Other suspects remain at large.
From Symon Hill at Ekklesia
The UK is the world's second biggest arms exporter, yet public opposition to the arms trade is growing rapidly. BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms company, is facing a stream of scandals and more and more people are insisting that BAE should not get away with calling the shots ... The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had been investigating allegations that BAE was engaged in mulitmillion pound corruption, bribing Saudi princes with luxury cars, hotels and prostitutes. Last autumn, the SFO sought access to Swiss bank accounts and the media reported that they were close to a breakthrough. BAE's bosses flew into alarm, seeing their privileges and profits under threat. It all changed when Attorney General Peter Goldsmith announced that the investigation had been dropped. The next day Tony Blair defended the decision, saying the inquiry was harming UK-Saudi relations.
From Simeon Kerr and Roula Khalaf at Financial Times
Maan Abdulwahed al-Sanea, the Saudi tycoon who has just amassed a 3.1% stake in HSBC, is seeking to raise $5bn in bonds, including sukuk trust certificates that comply with Islamic law, Saad Group, his conglomerate, said on Wednesday. The company has a vast investment portfolio and interests in real estate ... The Saad Group’s issuance forms part of a surge in regional firms tapping Islamic debt markets to fund expansion. Gulf investors, awash with petrodollars, are chasing these offerings, but international investors are increasingly interested in the regional sukuk offerings.
From Middle East Times
A Malaysian firm and Saudi Arabia's Rajhi Bank have created the world's first electronic funds transfer system to comply with Islamic financial principles, company officials said Thursday. Rajhi and Kencana, a Malaysian electronic service provider, said that they had collaborated on the system, known as the Islamic Payment Switch (IPS), which will be ready by July. Rajhi said that its first application would see the issuing of a prepaid or debit card to enable customers to transfer funds between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia ... Islamic finance fuses principles of Sharia, or Islamic law, and modern banking.
From Andrew Gray at Reuters
Israeli officials have raised objection to the planned transfer by the Bush administration of a major arms package to Riyadh. The New York Times reported that the sale would include precision-guided bombs of the kind already in Israel's arsenal ... "I thought they needed to look at the circumstances in terms of the overall strategic environment and in terms of the concerns of their neighbours, more with Iran perhaps, than with Israel," Gates told reporters after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
From Aaron Goldstein at The American Daily
But if Arab acceptance of Israel is contingent on it giving up Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights what is the Arab idea of normalization? Somehow I suspect it will be much like it is now. While reading National Review Online, Mark Steyn provided a link to this article. Evidently Saudis are panic stricken after receiving a text message allegedly from the Saudi Interior Ministry that claims Israeli melons are contaminated with the AIDS virus. For its part, a Saudi government spokesman said the Ministry “did not issue any such announcement. This is just a rumor.” Putting aside the fact the AIDS virus cannot be spread through plant life notice that the spokesman did not deny the veracity of the story. Rather the spokesman said only that the story did not come from them. Simply put, any reports of Israeli wrongdoing won’t be confirmed but neither will they be denied.
From Mike Thomas at Orlando Sentinel
We use about 25% of the world's oil. This tremendous demand keeps prices up, which means billions of dollars flowing into the Middle East. Some of that money finds its way to the extremist groups trying to destroy us. The Iraq Study Group noted that insurgents get money from Saudi individuals and others in the region. These "individuals'' certainly don't get their money from bake sales. We actually are funding both sides in the War on Terror. We are helping pay for the car bombs and missiles being used against our troops.
From Assaf Moghadam at Counterterrorism Blog
While the war in Iraq has done much to intensify Salafi-Jihadism in Iraq, Salafi-Jihadist networks in Iraq had existed prior to the 2003 invasion of the country. In the course of the 1990s, these networks came to existence partially in response to the military and economic crisis brought by the first Gulf War. In the aftermath of 9/11 and Operation Enduring Freedom, when Salafi-Jihadists lost Afghanistan as a safe haven, additional Salafi-Jihadists entered Iraq, where they were joined by members of Salafi-Jihadist networks from places like Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and Europe.
From Lawrence Uniglicht at Israel Hasbara Committee
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems impressed by the Arab League’s apparent willingness to negotiate with, hence recognize, the State of Israel as a viable legitimate entity. Indeed, he and many others are chomping at the bit to break pita with House of Saud King Abdullah, extending invitations to his entourage as well as other Arab League members to meet in Israel, hug and hold hands, sing Kumbaya and live happily ever after in peace and harmony. Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, if you are naive at heart! Abdullah, for one, is the planet’s most generous underwriter of Wahhabi madrassas, Koran-inspired educational institutions offering graduate degree courses in bomb making and homicide/suicide martyrdom. Will Olmert insist he cease and desist from such practices as a gesture of good faith, prior to negotiations?
New information received by Balkanalysis.com from a Slovenian intelligence source confirms Serbian media allegations that at least some of the weaponry found in the Wahhabi training camp had arrived from Kosovo - and for a reason: according to our information, extremist Albanians in Kosovo opposed to negotiation with Serbs are collaborating with the Wahhabis [in Sandzak]… in the case of new violence, the goal would be a show of force against Serbs from both sides.”
From John L. Esposito at Newsweek and The Washington Post
Religious leaders and intellectuals can play an important role in the ideological war. Wahhabi Islam like the militant (as distinguished from mainstream) Christian Right of a Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell must be distinguished from violent forms of the Christian Right and of Wahhabi Islam with their theologies of hate. The former, follow exclusivist, non-pluralistic theologies vis a vis other faiths as well as alternative theological interpretations or orientations within their own faith tradition, but do not advocate violence and terror. However, their theological worldviews can be appropriated by militants to justify blowing up abortion clinics or government buildings, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, assassinating “the enemies of God,” and Muslim extremists in Israel/Palestine and Iraq.