Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Saudi sect presses for equality

From Betsy Hiel of The Pittsburg Tribune-Review

The Shia had Saudi religious leaders in the 1950s, he says, before the government "closed the religious schools and banned religious books, so people went to Najaf (in Iraq) and Qom (in Iran) to study." "You cannot just kick the Shia out of the state," says Al-Shayab. "They have to be part of the system." Al-Saif, the political consultant, believes the government should legalize Shia religious schools to educate new Shia leaders. "Instead of pushing the Shia to the Iranian way, try to attract them," he says. "You have all the tools, the legitimacy, the money and the willingness of the majority of the Shia." Still, he says, real change will never occur without a more democratic system that includes all Saudis. Al-Ramadan, the agricultural company CEO, agrees. "There is no chance of any serious change unless there is a change from a religious government to a civil government," he says.

Gunmen Attack UNRWA School in Rafah

From The MEMRI Blog

A group of gunmen (the Salafi Group) yesterday fired on and threw hand grenades at a UNRWA school in Rafah, killing one and wounding seven. Prior to the incident, members of the group demonstrated to protest against the sports day, saying that it harmed morality and modesty and was against Islamic religious law.

The bishop and the Islamist: a cautionary tale

From David Aaronovitch at The Times (UK)

In The Islamist, Ed Husain tells us that organisations like Hizb (then led by Omar Bakri Mohammad) and the several competing Wahhabi outfits were a necessary part of the transmission of naive Muslim men into jihadis, both abroad and eventually in this country. It usually started with Jamat and ended up with 7/7. And one of the techniques used, Husain recalls, was to link all grievances together to give them a common cause. “In years to come the Hizb would argue that every British Muslim difficulty, from terrorism to poor community relations, was the result of British foreign policy. And to this drumbeat other Islamists would march.”

Back to 'Saddam without a mustache'

From Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times

There have been insistent rumors in Baghdad of a US-inspired "white coup" in Parliament to finish off Maliki's ineffective government and install Allawi as the new prime minister ... Azat al-Shabander is Iyad Allawi's spokesman. He told Asia Times Online, "[Allawi] strongly condemns the Shi'ite political parties who suffer interference from Iran. True Iraqi Shi'ites don't accept this intervention." He said Allawi has "good relations" with Saudi Arabia, although is always vigilant because "sometimes they [Saudis] support religious parties here with a lot of money". This an oblique reference to Wahhabi support for the Sunni Arab resistance.

Al Qaeda Scores a Google Victory

from StrategyPage.com

Some wealthy Saudis, who believe in the conservative Wahhabi brand of Islam that propels al Qaeda, still bankroll the organization. Some are believed to belong to the royal family (there are now over 10,000 al Sauds). There is an ongoing debate in the royal family over how harsh one should be to these pro-terrorist royals. Family relations are a bid deal in Saudi Arabia, one of the few real monarchies left ... Young, unemployed men remain eager al Qaeda supporters, as do educated men frustrated at the sorry state of their government and economy. Saudi Arabia turns out far more college grads with degrees in Islamic Studies, than in things like math, finance or engineering. There aren't enough jobs for all those religion majors, and foreigners have to be imported to do the math, finance and engineering jobs. It's a self inflicted wound that Saudi Arabia, and many other Moslem nations, are trying to address.