From MSN: A prominent Saudi cleric has declared photographs with cats, and other animals, unless completely necessary due to an upsurge in Saudis “who want to be like Westerners.”
On a televised broadcast, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was told about “a new trend of taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like Westerners.”
He replied: “What?! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don’t matter here.” The sheikh continued: “Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity. Not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.”
Footage of the televised broadcast was published on YouTube on April 17 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group.
Under the country’s strict, ultraconservative brand of Islam, known as Wahhabism, many things that are normal in Western daily life are outlawed. In January, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti allegedly ruled that chess is forbidden in the kingdom as it encourages gambling. Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said that chess was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players.”
Another game to be banned in the country is the Pokemon franchise, with the grand mufti saying that it promoted other religions, such as Christianity or Judaism because of the crosses or the Jewish Star of David that were displayed on the cards.
Wonder if Hillary believes that “human rights” are to be applied to those with different religious beliefs as well? No worries, more donations should keep her quiet on this matter.
The Guardian reported yesterday that Ashraf Fayadh (35), a Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene, has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.
A Saudi court ordered the execution of Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.
Fayadh is a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia.He was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014. After his appeal was dismissed he was retried last month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.
If you are aware of human rights (such as they are) in Saudi Arabia, this should come as no surprise. Systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities is prevalent. “I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death,” Fayadh told the Guardian.
Ashraf Fayadh/Photo from his Instagram account
A migrant rights activist from Kuwait, Mona Kareem, has led a campaign for the poet’s release, said: “For one and a half years they promised him an appeal and kept intimidating him that there’s new evidence. He was unable to assign a lawyer because his ID was confiscated when he was arrested [in January 2014]. Then they said you must have a retrial and we’ll change the prosecutor and the judges. The new judge didn’t even talk to him, he just made the verdict.”
Fayadh’s supporters believe he is being punished by hardliners for posting a video online showing the religious police (mutaween) in Abha lashing a man in public. “Some Saudis think this was revenge by the morality police,” said Kareem. He also believes that Fayadh has been targeted because he is a Palestinian refugee, even though he was born in Saudi Arabia.
Fayadh was first detained in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was cursing against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh said the complaint arose from a personal dispute with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a cafe in Abha.
After one day in jail, he was released on bail but the police arrested him again on January 1, 2014, confiscating his ID and detaining him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later. According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair.
You are not allowed to practice or preach a different religion in Saudi Arabia other than Islam. Hence Fayadh is in the position he is in now. “They accused me [of] atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society,” said Fayadh. He added that the book, Instructions Within, published in 2008, was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”
During Fayadh’s trial in February 2014, complainant and two members of the religious police told the court that Fayadh had publicly blasphemed, promoted atheism to young people and conducted illicit relationships with women and stored some of their photographs on his mobile phone. He denied the accusations of blasphemy and told the court he was a faithful Muslim. According to the court documents, he said: “I am repentant to God most high and am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”
The case highlights the tensions between hardline religious conservatives and the small but growing number of artists and activists who are tentatively pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia, where cinema is banned and there are no art schools.
Saudi Arabia has a complete intolerance of anyone who does not share government-mandated religious, political and social views. But that is not unexpected from those who adhere to Sharia Law.
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site — a cave — of his first revelation of the Quran, Mecca in Saudi Arabia is regarded as the holiest city of Islam.
On Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, during a rainstorm, a huge construction crane crashed into the court of the Grand Mosque at Mecca, killing 107 Muslims and injuring another 200 of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world gathered there for their annual hajj pilgrimage.
The crane was there for a massive expansion of the mosque undertaken by Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), which is owned by the family of the now-dead Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The AFP reports (via ZeeNews) reports that a day later on Sept. 12, the engineer for SBG said the collapse of the crane was “an act of God” and not due to a technical fault.
The engineer, who asked not to be identified, said the crane, like many other cranes on the project, had been there for three or four years without any problem: “It was not a technical issue at all. I can only say that what happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God and, to my knowledge, there was no human fault in it at all.”
The engineer said the crane was the main one used on work to expand the tawaf, or circumambulation area around the Kaaba — a massive cubed structure at the center of the mosque that is a focal point of worship.
Kabaa in the middle of court of Grand Mosque
The engineer explained that the crane’s heavy hook, which is able to lift hundreds of tonnes, began swaying and moved the whole crane with it, toppling into the mosque. He said the crane “has been installed in a way so as not to affect the hundreds of thousands of worshippers in the area and in an extremely professional way. This is the most difficult place to work in, due to the huge numbers of people in the area.”
A witness said the accident occurred during winds that were so strong they shook his car and tossed billboards around.
The development project is expanding the area of the Grand Mosque by 4.3 million square feet, which would accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.
God does work in mysterious ways! ~Éowyn
DailyMail: Restaurants in Saudi Arabia have banned single women from entering because of their ‘mentally unstable’ behaviour such as using flirting, smoking and using mobile phones.
Several restaurants have put up signs that say ‘women are not allowed’ in another blow for women’s rights in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
There is no law banning women from travelling alone in Saudi Arabia but deeply-held religious beliefs dictate that they should be accompanied by a male family member when out in public.
According to The Week, one restaurant owner said: ‘We put up these signs because we have seen numerous incidents of flirting taking place inside the restaurant. We’ll only remove these signs when we make sure such incidents never happen again on our premises because such type of behaviour negatively impacts our business.’ Bloggers in the Middle Eastern state also described women who smoke and use mobile phones as ‘mentally unstable’. One wrote: ‘The best thing is to keep women away from restaurants unless they have a male custodian. That way the restaurant is not shut down because of the misbehaviour of an adolescent or mentally unstable woman.’
The blogger added that one woman crossed the line when she came in alone and ‘focused on her mobile’.
Another online post said some women visiting restaurants had no respect. A man called Talal said: ‘My brother has a restaurant and he says that even though there is a section for families, there are often instances of embarrassment.
‘Several women would come in and would speak loudly without any respect for public behaviour. He says that it is difficult for him to get them to lower their voices.’
Saudi Arabia has one of the worst record’s for women’s rights in the world. Women will be allowed to vote and run for office in local elections for the first time next year but are still not allowed to drive. There are no laws on the minimum age it is legal to marry at, with father’s giving their daughters a way when they are just nine years old in some cases.
Women can ride bicycles, but only in ‘recreational areas’ if they are wearing full Islamic body coverings and are accompanied by a male guardian.
Khalid Al Fakhri, the head of Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights, said: ‘These signs are against the law and reflect the personal opinions of the restaurant owners.’
Now you ask what’s so confusing about that. well it seems these jihadist rebels are all TANGLED UP with al-Qaida. and it seems we may have provided a lot of these weapons. Now I’m no rocket scientist , but seems to me it might not have been a good idea giving these wahoo’s even a book of MATCHeS.
Written by Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – At least 6,000 jihadist rebels in Syria, many affiliated with al-Qaida, now pose a major security risk to the United States and Europe, according to Obama administration officials and Mideast experts.
Most of the news coverage of the emerging threat fails to mention U.S. and Western support, including weapons transfers, to the Syrian rebels. Al-Qaida-linked groups reportedly are prominent among the rebel ranks.
On Tuesday, Michael Morell, the Central Intelligence Agency’s second-in-command, warned in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that al-Qaida groups in Syria, along with the civil war itself, pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security. The Wall Street Journal reported Morell said there are now more foreignersflowing into Syria each month to fight with al-Qaida-affiliated groups than there were going to Iraq to fight with al-Qaida at the height of the war there. Meanwhile, according to UPI, Matthew G. Olsen, director of the Nati…Syria “has become really the predominant jihadist battlefield in the world.”
“The concern going forward from a threat perspective is there are individuals traveling to Syria, becoming further radicalized, becoming trained and then returning as part of really a global jihadist movement to Western Europe and, potentially, to the United States,” said Olsen at a security conference in Aspen, Colo., this month.
Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator, told the same conference, “The scale of this is completely different from what we’ve experienced in the past.”
De Kerchove spoke of jihadists flocking to Syria from Europe. He described the European jihadist travelers as self-radicalized and traveling on their own initiative.
He said the militants now pose a threat to their home countries if they attempt to return home, and he warned that European governments lack the capabilities to monitor all of them. USA Today further reported on at least 6,000 foreign jihadists from 50 nations, including fighters from Australia, France, Britain and the U.S.
“Australians now make up the largest contingent from any developed nation in the Syrian rebel forces,” the newspaper reported. “There are around 120 French fighters in Syria, about 100 Britons and a handful of Americans.”
There is a history of foreign fighters returning home to carry out terrorist attacks, such as the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, in which 19 U.S. servicemen were killed. Unmentioned by CIA official Morell or the major news media reporting on the Syrian rebel threat is that the U.S. and Western countries have supplied vast sums of weapons to the Syrian rebels and earlier to the rebels in Libya who toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. WND reported earlier this week that U.S. and other Western arms shipments to jihadist-saturated Libyan and Syrian rebel groups may have contributed to al-Qaida’s growing worldwide threat. Al-Qaida’s resurgence may now be culminating in the terrorist group’s reported plot to target U.S. and Western interests, prompting a weeklong shutdown of U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa, WND further reported.
Indeed, informed Middle Eastern security sources told WND the current al-Qaida terrorist plot against U.S. and Western targets is a direct result of U.S.-supported efforts currently under way to purge al-Qaida affiliates from the ranks of the Syrian rebels. The sources have specific knowledge of the terrorist threat.
The sources said the U.S. has been working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states to support a U.S.-armed Free Syria Army effort to cleanse al-Qaida affiliates from among the rebel ranks, including al-Nusra and other groups.
For months, the U.S. reportedly has been providing lethal support to the Syrian rebels amid widespread fears the Western weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaida organizations known to work alongside the Free Syria Army.
Now with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad closing in on the insurgency targeting his regime, U.S. allies in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East are deeply concerned the freshly armed al-Qaida groups could turn their efforts from Assad to destabilizing the moderate Arab regimes.
To that affect, according to the Middle Eastern security sources, the U.S. has been heavily aiding the Free Syrian Army in its efforts to disarm or eliminate the al-Qaida groups fighting as Syrian rebels.
The Middle Eastern security sources said the current al-Qaida plot is an attempt to dissuade the U.S. from further supporting the disarming efforts.
~Steve~ H/T https://americac2c.com/?
Nothing can be sadder in this Christmas season than the news that Christianity is facing imminent extinction in the land of its birth.
And the cause is the systematic and mounting persecution of Christians by militant Muslims. In fact, persecution by the “religion of peace” is now the greatest threat to Christians across the world.
Edward Malnickreports for The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012, that a new report entitled Christianophobia, by the think tank Civitassays “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree. A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers” and suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. As many as 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.” The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam. The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians is in countries where Islam is the dominant faith. “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.
Quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century, the Civitas report concludes “There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands.”
The report identifies a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them. The report catalogs hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.
Converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran, or risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
In Iraq, the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 other priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010. “In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country,” the report says.
In Pakistan, the murder last year of Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s Catholic minister for minorities, “vividly reflected” religious intolerance in Pakistan. Shortly after his death it emerged that Mr Bhatti had recorded a video in which he declared: “I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. I prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise. I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us.”
In India, Christians have faced years of violence from Hindu extremists. In 2010 scores of attacks on Christians and church property were carried out in Karnataka, a state in south west India.
In Burma, while many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, little exposure has been given to targeted abuse of Christians. In some areas of Burma the government has clamped down on Christian protesters by restricting the building of new churches. Christians employed in government service who openly profess their faith “find it virtually impossible to get promotion.”
In China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world, state hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife. Ma Hucheng, an advisor to the Chinese government, claimed in an article last year that the US has backed the growth of the Protestant Church in China as a vehicle for political dissidence. Writing in the China Social Sciences Press, Ma claims that “Western powers, with America at their head, deliberately export Christianity to China and carry out all kinds of illegal evangelistic activities. Their basic aim is to use Christianity to change the character of the regime…in China and overturn it.”
But the persecution and oppression of Christians in Muslim countries is often ignored by the media because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”. Politicians, too, have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Rupert Shortt, journalist and author of the Civitas report who’s a visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, says:
“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood. The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.” ~Eowyn
A mufti is a jurist who interprets Muslim religious law. Grand Mufti is the title given to the titular head of the Muslim community. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is Sheik Abdul Aziz al ash-Shaikh, 72, the equivalent of the Catholic Church’s pope. He’s been blind since 1960.
The blind Grand Mufti has just declared it necessary to destroy all Christian churches in the Middle East region. In so doing, Sheik Abdul puts the lie to Muslims’ insistence that Islam’s God is the same as the God of Judaism and Christianity, and that Muslims respect Jews and Christians as all “People of the Book.”
Saudi Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh
As reported by an editorialin The Washington Times on March 16, 2012:
On March 12, Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”The ruling came in response to a query from a Kuwaiti delegation over proposed legislation to prevent construction of churches in the emirate. The mufti based his decision on a story that on his deathbed, Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula.” This passage has long been used to justify intolerance in the kingdom. Churches have always been banned inSaudi Arabia, and until recently Jews were not even allowed in the country. Those wishing to worship in the manner of their choosing must do so hidden away in private, and even then the morality police have been known to show up unexpectedly and halt proceedings.
This is not a small-time radical imam trying to stir up his followers with fiery hate speech. This was a considered, deliberate and specific ruling from one of the most important leaders in the Muslim world. It does not just create a religious obligation for those over whom the mufti has direct authority; it is also a signal to others in the Muslim world that destroying churches is not only permitted but mandatory.
Being not just a mufti but a grand mufti, the sheik’s declaration that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” therefore is a fatwa — a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law.
Not only is the sheik’s declaration unreported by the useless MSM, the fatwa also went without any comment, even less a condemnation, by the Obama administration. The Washington Times notes:
If the pope called for the destruction of all the mosques in Europe, the uproar would be cataclysmic. Pundits would lambaste the church, the White House would rush out a statement of deep concern, and rioters in the Middle East would kill each other in their grief. But when the most influential leader in the Muslim world issues a fatwa to destroy Christian churches, the silence is deafening. […]
The Obama administration ignores these types of provocations at its peril. The White House has placed international outreach to Muslims at the center of its foreign policy in an effort to promote the image of the United States as an Islam-friendly nation. This cannot come at the expense of standing up for the human rights and religious liberties of minority groups in the Middle East. The region is a crucial crossroads. Islamist radicals are leading the rising political tide against the authoritarian, secularist old order. They are testing the waters in their relationship with the outside world, looking for signals of how far they can go in imposing their radical vision of a Shariah-based theocracy. Ignoring provocative statements like the mufti’s sends a signal to these groups that they can engage in the same sort of bigotry and anti-Christian violence with no consequences.
Mr. Obama’s outreach campaign to the Muslim world has failed to generate the good will that he expected. In part, this was because he felt it was better to pander to prejudice than to command respect. When members of the Islamic establishment call for the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing, the leader of the free world must respond or risk legitimizing the oppression that follows. The United States should not bow to the extremist dictates of the grand mufti, no matter how desperate the White House is for him to like us.
Alas, The Washington Times’ counsel that Obama should condemn what the Saudi Grand Mufti said will fall on deaf ears. Have we already forgotten this famous bow to the Saudi king in 2009?
Thankfully, since Islam is not (yet) a unified political religion, but is divided at least into the Sunni and Shia sects, dissenting Muslim voices are already criticizing the Grand Mufti’s call to “destroy all the churches” in the Gulf region.
Turkey’s top imam, Mehmet Görmez, said he cannot accept the Grand Mufti’s fatwa because it runs contrary to the centuries-old Islamic teachings of tolerance and the sanctity of institutions belonging to other religions. H/t our beloved fellow Grouchy. ~Eowyn
Saudi-backed center for religious tolerance signed into being, sparking hopes and concerns
From the ignorant Washington Post: Saudi Arabia inaugurated an interfaith center in Vienna Thursday and its foreign minister said he hoped the spirit of tolerance embodied by the new institution will help change his conservative Muslim country, which prohibits any religion except Islam.
The statement by Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was an unusually clear declaration of intent by Saudi Arabia’s rulers to work for religious and societal reforms from abroad in the face of domestic opposition to rapid change.
The center has ignited debate. Backers hope it will promote increased tolerance in Saudi Arabia, a kingdom that now prohibits any religion outside of Islam. Detractors, including Austria’s Green party and moderate Muslim groups in Austria say the Saudis are the last people who should be hosting initiatives on religious coexistence.
Ahead of Thursday’s inauguration ceremonies, the daily Der Standard cited Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee as criticizing Saudi plans to exercise initial leadership oversight of the institution, saying it had to be “totally independent.” Wahhabism — the strain of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Saudi Arabia — is considered one of the religion’s most conservative. Some of its tenets were hijacked by Osama bin Laden and other terrorists to justify their acts.
Strict interpretations of the faith have left Saudi women without the right to drive or to go out without permission from a male relative. They have also have tattered ties with Islam’s other major branch, Shiism, that have exposed deep rivalries between Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shiite Iran.
In Vienna to launch the interfaith center, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s comments focused on the “King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue” — and he appeared keen to dispel skepticism about his country’s commitment to make it a focal point of interfaith dialogue and tolerance.
In an unsually fortright statement reflecting the Saudi leadership’s push for change, the minister said he hoped “the center will take the lead” in making Saudi Arabia a more tolerant society. “Saudi Arabia is willing to financially participate in this project, and to place all its moral and political resources behind such a center, without infringing … on its autonomy or independence from any political interference,” he told officials and reporters.
And he warned against “extremist minorities within every religious and cultural community … seeking … to propagate notions of intolerance, exclusion, racism and hatred. “These tiny minorities,” he said, “are trying to hijack and disrupt the legitimate identities and aspirations of people of all cultures and faiths.”
He wants to make Saudi Arabia a more tolerant society? If he wanted to help change his conservative Muslim country, then why not open the interfaith center in say, Saudi Arabia? Oh yeah, we know why. What a crock.
In the year 1776, on July 4th, thirteen colonies in North America declared independence from King George III and the British Empire.
Thus began the Revolutionary War that eventually succeeded in establishing a new and independent country called the United States of America. Its founders insisted that the new America be a republic instead of a monarchy.
233 years later, in 2009, the President of the United States of America showed obeisance to the king of Saudi Arabia by bowing to him.
In recognition of that gesture of servility, King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz gifted Skippy with a big chunky gold necklace:
Under U.S. federal law, gifts received by the President of the United States are NOT to be kept by the recipient because they are deemed gifts to the Office, not the person, of the Presidency. The gifts are to be kept in the White House collection as part of America’s history and legacy.
Joseph, who sent the video to me, writes: “I’d like to see the catalogue that shows all the gifts and where they now are….”
Yes, I too want to know where that solid gold necklace is! ~Eowyn