Friday, October 12, 2007

The war against popular Islam

by Praveen Swami from The Hindu

Thursday’s bombing of the saint’s shrine at Ajmer — the third in a series of attacks on Muslim religious institutions after the 2006 bombing of a Sufi shrine in Malegaon and this summer’s strike at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad — have been characterised as attempts to provoke a pan-India communal war. Islamist critics of Sufism loathe shrines like that at Ajmer, which they claim propagate the heresy of shirk – an Arabic term commonly translated to mean polytheism, but also the veneration of saints and even atheism. South Asian terror groups associated with recent attacks on Muslim shrines — notably the Lashkar-e-Taiba — draw theological inspiration from the Salafi sect, sometimes referred to as Wahabbism. Salafi theologians are intensely hostile to Sufi orders, characterising them as apostasy.

'Dispatches' documentary on extremists angered Saudis

by Philip Johnston from The Telegraph

The Saudi role was revealed in a letter from David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, to Paul Goodman, the Conservative communities spokesman. He said his predecessor told the Saudi ambassador in January that ''Channel Four was an independent television channel and that as such the UK Government had no control over their output. Subsequently, officials met with the Saudi embassy on Feb 15 and reiterated these points." No one at the Saudi embassy was immediately available to comment ... Mr Goodman said the letter raised questions over the Saudi involvement. in the affair. Mr Goodman added: ''In general, the Saudis should bear in mind Britain's traditional culture of press freedom. Media inquiries into Wahabism, however unwelcome to them, are part of that freedom, which must be preserved."

Proposed Yemen-Djibouti Bridge Threatens AFRICOM Security

by Chris Heffelfinger and Olivier Guitta from The Jamestown Foundation

A newly announced project to build the world's longest bridge—17 miles connecting Yemen and Djibouti—under Saudi billionaire Tarek bin Laden's (half-brother to Osama) Middle East Development LLC. More than merely a developer, in the 1990s he was general supervisor of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a fraudulent Saudi group designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as having aided al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups' fundraising efforts ... The project physically and figuratively links al-Qaeda in Arabia to the African continent. Taking into regard al-Qaeda's growing presence in Yemen, it is puzzling how the U.S. envisions this project promotes greater security or help combat terrorism.

Indonesian man accused of trying to export rifle scopes

by Ryan J. Foley from The Rhinelander Daily News

A federal grand jury in Madison returned a two-count indictment against Doli Syarief Pulungan, who faces up to 15 years in federal prison. The indictment accuses Pulungan of sending an e-mail in July instructing an unnamed person living in Wisconsin to order 100 Leupold Mark 4 CQ/T Riflescopes, used on rifles such as the M-16 and AR-15. In September, Pulungan asked another person in Wisconsin to buy 100 more of the same scopes, and to ship the equipment to Saudi Arabia and then on to Indonesia, the indictment said. A second count in the indictment accuses Pulungan, age unknown, of lying to the FBI about whether he had been living in the U.S.

SABIC denies monopoly accusations

by Wael Mahdi from Arabian Business

A report published by local newspapers accused SABIC affiliate, the Saudi Iron and Steel Company (HADEED) of entering into an agreement with other local iron and steel manufactures to increase steel prices as of mid-October this year resulting in a state of confusion in the local steel market ... SABIC was surprised of this alleged agreement in place between several plants to increase prices, which it regards contrary to the nature of free-market principles, and in the same time conflicting with the basic principle of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the Saudi government had agreed on, which is to protect competition and resist monopoly. The Saudi petrochemical sector, which SABIC plays key role in, is believed to be the major sector that will benefit heavily from the accession into the WTO.

Saudi Arabia: Law of God versus law of man

from The Economist

The reforms do not touch on how judges are chosen. While most Saudis are proud of their faith and believe in the justice of Islamic law, many would like their legal system to accept currents other than Wahhabism in interpreting it. Some 10% of the 24 miliion Saudis are Shias and many of the rest adhere to less rigid Sunni schools. Liberal Saudis even suggest that judges should be trained not only in sacred texts but also in other aspects of life. The changes do not meet another demand often voiced by lawyers, which is for laws to be codified. This is no easy task, since sharia consists of only a limited number of specific injunctions, with the bulk of accepted texts being instead traditions of exemplary behaviour by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.

Where is the Issue of Education for Peace in the Olmert-Rice-Abbas Initiative?

by Dore Gold from Israeli Insider

There now seems to be a regression to the use of more hostile language including references in the latest twelfth grade texts to jihad and martyrdom. Emphasis on the need for steadfastness against the enemies of Islam returned to the texts for the twelfth grade as well. "Israel" was removed from all the maps in the text ... Besides demanding an "unconditional ceasefire," the Roadmap insists already at this initial phase that "all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." Subsequently in Phase I, the Palestinian Authority is supposed to begin dismantling the military infrastructures of terrorist organizations, while the Arab states must halt all funding to them (e.g., Saudi aid to Hamas).

Berri Urges Syria-Saudi to Achieve Reconciliation Concerning Lebanon

from An-Nahar

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said that he supports Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir's calls for a President to be at an equal distance from all political players. Meanwhile, Lebanon was waiting for the return of both Berri, who is in Geneva, and MP Saad Hariri to resume talks ahead of the upcoming presidential vote scheduled for October 23. Hariri was expected to wrap up his U.S. visit with a stopover in Paris for talks with senior officials. From there, he was to head to Riyadh where he would spend Eid el-Fitr with family and friends.