Thursday, November 29, 2007

Arabs seek distancing religion from terror

from UPI

A Cairo meeting of the Arab Justice Ministers Council Wednesday denounced terrorism [NOTE: also denounced in 2006, 2005, 2004] and called for a study on distancing it from Islam. The one-day meeting concluded with a call to form a study group on establishing an Arab anti-terrorism studies center, Kuwait's KUNA news agency reported. A group statement said it was critical to differentiate between terrorism and people's right to resist aggression and occupation. The group also urged Arab states that haven't changed their legislation and ratified it in accord with the Arab Anti-Terrorism Agreement to get it done quickly, the report said. Saudi Arabia has raised the issue at the U.N. General Assembly of establishing an international anti-terrorism center, which the ministers called on member states to support, KUNA said.

Huckabee blasts Saudis

from The Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says consumers are financing both sides in the war on terror because of the actions of a key U.S. ally: Saudi Arabia. Speaking on CNN's Late Edition, the former Arkansas governor says the country has become enslaved by Saudi oil and every time Americans buy gas, they are making the Saudis -- quote - "filthy, obscenely rich." He calls the situation embarrassing and says the money that goes to Saudi Arabia ends up funding religious schools "that train terrorists." Huckabee also criticized the Bush administration for its muted response to the sentencing of a woman in a Saudi court. The woman had been gang-raped but was convicted of being in the car of a man who was not a relative and sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes.

Saudi religious police cleared of fatal beating

from AFP (France)

The court in Riyadh "acquitted the two members of the Commission (for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) of the charge of being directly responsible for the death of Suleiman al-Huraisi, for lack of sufficient evidence," the commission's lawyer Yussef al-Nuqaidan told AFP. Religious police, commonly known as Muttawa, enforce a strict Islamic moral code in Saudi Arabia. They stormed the home of the 28-year-old man in the capital after they suspected him of distributing alcohol, which is banned in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom. Nuqaidan said the court cleared the two defendants because "the testimonies of the witnesses brought by the plaintiff, who is the dead man's brother, are not credible." ... The lawyer said the court also dismissed a forensic report stating that the victim was badly beaten, because "while no one denies that beating was the cause of death, the question is: who beat who?" During the raid, "the (dead) man and many members of his family, who were carrying big knives and sharp instruments, resisted the Commission members, and things got confused." Hence, it is not possible to state categorically that Huraisi's beating by the religious police, "which was aimed at controlling him," was the cause of death, Nuqaidan said.

Over 1,500 Extremists Freed After Repenting

from Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

According to Muhammad Al-Nujaimi, a member of the Counseling Committee and professor of comparative jurisprudence at the King Fahd Security College, the Counseling Committee was established by Prince Muhammad ibn Naif assistant, minister of interior for security affairs, in 2004 ... The suspects were largely confused about the meaning of jihad, which led to their believing in committing blind violence. They also viewed that the present Muslim rulers, scholars and public were infidels, and therefore demanded the establishment of a single Islamic state, said Al-Nujaimi. After several graded sessions with the committee, and having been convinced of their misguided vision, they renounced their erroneous ideologies, including the concept of driving out all infidels from the Arabian Peninsula,” he said. The committee first evaluates the personality and the ideological crisis suffered by the suspect, and then decides on how to clean his mind of the mistaken impressions, said Al-Nujaimi. he committee in the later stages of counseling holds several sessions on the concept of obedience to a ruler, loyalty, conditions for baiat (declaration of allegiance to a ruler) and the mistaken concept of murder and violence without guilt.

Saudi authorities alarmed by 3,000 runaway girls

translated by Sonia Farid from Al Arabiya (UAE)

The Saudi Ministries of Interior and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are conducting a study on runaway girls, press reports said Wednesday. The move comes as the number of girls who ran away from their families hit 3,000, according to Saudi newspaper Okaz. Other local papers have reported that 850 of the runaways were under the age of 14. Psychiatrist Mohei Abdullah Al-Qurani, who heads the psychotherapy center in the southwestern governorate of Baljorashi, attributes the girls' behavior to the absence of devout religiosity and to family problems. According to Qurani, the solution is to raise children in accordance with Islamic principles and constantly monitor their behavior and circle of friends ... The social affairs director in the Mecca Region, Ihsan Tayeb, warned in earlier press statements that a lack of monitoring and negligence on the part of parents are the main reasons behind the phenomenon.

HRC: Kingdom to Change Sponsorship Law Soon

by Raid Qusti from Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

“There is an initiative to begin studies (into a system) where private companies will import foreign labor… Communication, hence, would be between citizens, who are in need of foreign labor, and these private companies,” HRC President Turki Al-Sudairi said in an interview with Arab News, the first ever by a Saudi daily. Al-Sudairi said he supports the change in law, which would bring an end to the existence of sponsors. “I support it. I think it would be better and easier for laborers and for the country,” he said ... The top HRC official said that the Ministry of Labor said that incidents of Saudi sponsors mistreating foreign laborers in the Kingdom, as highlighted by foreign organizations, do not mean mistreatment is rampant or widespread. “If things were as bad as foreign organizations say, then why would people be anxious to come here to work? They would run away. What is true is the contrary that the general atmosphere of work here is good,” he said. Al-Sudairi ... The HRC official noted that many reports on Saudi Arabia by international human rights organizations were exaggerated and contained many misconceptions. He particularly mentioned a US State Department for Religious Freedom report on Saudi Arabia. “It is obvious that the original status of this country, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the land of the Two Holy Mosques, is not clear to them,” he said, adding that the Kingdom’s religious nature could not be compared to other countries in terms of building public places of worship such as churches ... Regarding the negative aspects mentioned in some reports by international human rights bodies, the HRC official said that the Saudi human rights body “would seek to correct whatever is untrue in the reports.”

Turbulent times in 'nowhere land'

by Simon Tisdall from The Guardian (UK)

Azerbaijan's importance to Washington and the EU as a producer and conduit of Caspian oil and gas, as a Nato-friendly ally bordering Iran, and as a foil to Vladimir Putin's Russia overshadows human rights and democracy concerns. And Aliyev's secular government, presiding over a majority Muslim nation, also skilfully plays on US "war on terror" fears. It made much this month of alleged plots by Wahhabi extremists to attack the American and British embassies and possibly blow up the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline ... This is the region that author Thomas de Waal has dubbed "Nowhere Land", caught between the Black and Caspian seas, Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, authoritarianism and democracy - and alternately neglected and exploited by the great powers. "The US and Europe have plenty of agendas in these countries ... but show no evidence of having an overall strategy or a vision for the region's future," De Waal wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Serbia's Wahhabis to Stand Trial

from Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (Serbia)

The trial of about a dozen Wahhabis will start on January 14, said Maja Kovacevic-Tomic, a spokeswoman for the prosecution. The group arrested earlier this year in the Sandzak region of western Serbia has been charged with allegedly plotting to kill Muamer Zukorlic, a top Islamic cleric, and with planning attacks on a police station in Novi Pazar and on targets in the capital, Belgrade. Zukorlic told Balkan Insight he had been receiving death threats in the past, mainly over his mobile phone ... “We knew that these threats were coming from the Wahhabis because they were publicly saying such things,” Zukorlic said. The members of the Sandzak-based Wahhabi group were arrested in March following clashes with the police ... The Saudi-based movement claims it is seeking to restore a pure and original form of Islam. That has put it at odds with the traditional version of the faith practised in the Sandzak, a region which has a Muslim majority, and with Zukorlic in particular.