It’s all sorted now: Saudi denounces all terrorism 14, April 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Islam, Saudi Arabia.
Tags: Absurd fatwas, Fatwa, Fatwa against terrorism, Ridiculous fatwas, Saudi Arabia, Saudi terrorism, Terrorismn, Wahhabi
The Council of Supreme Scholars, the highest religious body in Saudi Arabia, has issued a fatwa denouncing any and all acts of terrorism including its financing. Those giving money towards such causes will now be considered to be “partners” in the crime.
Whilst this decree is a positive step in the right direction, there are three reasons to hold back with the balloons and party-poppers.
Firstly, it is important to note the precise wording of the fatwa. Terrorism is defined as acts
targeting public resources, hijacking planes or blowing up buildings.
I would suggest, therefore, that this fatwa has been demanded by Saudi’s political establishment to stop those planning to attack Saudi’s oil infrastructure. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t mention the killing of innocent people, ergo, it’s a joke.
Secondly, does anyone really think that a terrorist in, for example, Saudi will desist from attacking some “public resource” because Saudi’s clerics have said it’s illegal and haram? Surely 99% of such people ipso facto hate Saudi’s clerics and don’t listen to a word they say. They see them (correctly) as a tool* of the ruling family and surely wouldn’t pay any attention to such a fatwa.
Thirdly, many fatwas are utterly ridiculous. Any religious authority can issue one. Granted, a fatwa from Saudi’s religious authority will carry more weight than most (probably) but still they are, it seems to me, wholly flimsy. Here are a few of the best fatwas that I’ve come across: (Hat tip)
[Incidentally, none of these are from crazy, no-name Imams...]
- The Fatwa: Grand Mufti Sheikh Ibn Baaz The Sun Revolves Around the Earth
In a 2000 Fatwa titled “The Transmitted and Sensory Proofs of the Rotation of the Sun and Stillness of the Earth”, Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Ibn Baaz asserted that the earth was flat and disk-like and that the sun revolved around it. He had insisted that satellite images to the contrary were nothing but a Western conspiracy against the Islamic world.
- The Fatwa: Ezzat Attiya: Adult Breastfeeding in the Workplace
In May 2007, Ezzat Attiya wondered how unrelated men and women could work together in the same office, when Islam forbids men and women who aren’t married or related to be alone together. His answer: let her suckle him FIVE TIMES. Yes, that’s right, an adult female breastfeeding an adult male coworker will defuse all sexual tension in the office. See, the female worker will now be the male worker’s foster mother, and they can be alone together anytime. Attiya’s ruling was intergalactically mocked, and quickly condemned on the homefront as well. He was later suspended from his job, pilloried in Arab newspapers, and issued a hasty retraction saying it was a “bad interpretation of a particular case.”
- Muhammad Al-Munajid: Bring Me the Head of Mickey Mouse
That’s right, somebody put on hit on Mickey Mouse. Calling Mickey “one of Satan’s soldiers,” Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid decreed that household mice and their cartoon cousins must be “killed in all cases”, according to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph.
And get this—the guy’s not your average nutjob, either—Munajid used to be a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. He made the remarks on Arab television network al-Majd TV after he was asked to give Islam’s teaching on mice.
But don’t worry, Mickey won’t be alone. Munajid also put a hit on Jerry from “Tom and Jerry”. Maybe they could rent a flat with Salman Rushdie (above).
- The Fatwa: Rashad Hassan Khalil: No Nudity for Sex
In 2007, the former dean of Islamic law at al-Azhar University in Cairo issued a fatwa that nudity during sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage between husband and wife. Debate was immediate. Suad Saleh, head of the women’s department of Al-Azhar’s Islamic studies, pleaded for “anything that can bring spouses closer to each other” and Islamic scholar Abdel Muti concurred, saying “Nothing is prohibited during marital sex, except of course sodomy.”
For his part, Al-Azhar’s fatwa committee chairman Abdullah Megawar backpedaled and said that married couples could see each other naked but should really cover up with a blanket during sex.
*I do not mean this in a flippant way. The nexus between the ruling Al Sauds and the clerical authorities is a fascinating and symbiotic relationship. Each needs the other to maintain their power. Each wants to gain more power than the other. Their relative powers have waxed and waned for hundreds of years now. In a time when the Al Sauds need the Wahabbi clerics to sanction something (such as the stationing of US troops on US soil) they need, the Clerics charge a price according to how ‘much an ask’ that is. In this example, one noted author described this as the descent of Saudi society into “bottomless Islamisation” as the Al Sauds were demanding a staggering broad ranging and unpopular fatwa. Therefore, the Wahabbis seized this opportunity to take control of education and other social services and to bolster their vice and virtue police while they were in the ascendancy. So, in short, I firmly believe that Saudi religious authorities would say absolutely anything if the price was right.
Kuwait jails journalist 14, April 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
Tags: Kuwait, Kuwait Prime Minister, Kuwait's democracy, Kuwait's Parliament, Kuwaiti journalist jailed, Media freedom, Middle Easy media freedom, Mohammed Al Jassem
1 comment so far
A Kuwaiti journalist has been jailed for 6 months for slandering Kuwait’s Prime Minster Sheikh Nasser Al Ahmed Al Sabah. Apparently, in a public gathering he said that he was “incapable of running the country” and he called on the PM to resign. Just imagine if such an absurd, petty and damaging standard was applied in the West.
Reporters Without Borders reports that Al Jassem, the journalist in question, is the subject of five lawsuits by the PM and the information minister. As a result of one of these suits he was fined $9500 along with the paper that published his article accusing the media of supporting the PM in fermenting Sunni-Shia tension in Kuwait.
Al Jassem was also encouraged to leave the country by Kuwait’s national security chief.
Kuwait’s Prime Minister is a nephew of the current Emir and has been forced to resign five times (I think) because of serious questions about his decision making as well about a cheque for $700,000 which he gave to an MP. Yet, rather than submit himself to the ‘indignity’ of being questioned by MPs as they requested, the Emir has dissolved Parliament three times in recent years.
Rather than dissolve Parliament for a 4th time to avoid wholesale paralysis of the Kuwaiti Parliamentary system and even the potential semi-permanent dissolution of the Parliament at a whole (as in the 1980s) he was questioned by MPs. Yet clearly the key issue remains: various Royal’s inability to get over the notion that they not actually divinely mandated beings and deal with people on a day-to-day basis.
In highlighting and provoking this kind of backward, regressive and wholly out-dated thinking, Mohammed Abdel Qader Al Jassem deserves neither jail nor a fine but the proverbial keys to Kuwait City. You can follow his blog at http://aljasem.org/
On (the lack of) academic freedom in Kuwait 14, April 2010Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
Tags: Academic freedom, Kuwait, Kuwait academic freedom, Kuwait bans scholars, Madawi AL Rasheed
1 comment so far
I’ve just read on MESA’s website that Kuwait has banned two scholars from entering the country after they were initially granted a visa. Professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd from Utrecht University and SOAS’s Madawi Al Rasheed were both deemed unsuitable and banned from entering. I do not know of Abu Zayd but Al Rasheed is a scholar of the first order who recently wrote a fantastic book on Saudi Arabia. She was due to attend an annual meeting as well as give a public lecture to the Institute for Women’s Development and Training.
As the letter from MESA’s editor points out, the fact that the visas were issues and subsequently revoked indicates that pressure from above was applied even after institutionally speaking ‘Kuwait’ accepted these Professors. I’d go further and say that this is a classic example of the personalised nature of Gulf politics, where any Sheikh of stature can take offense to anything and anyone at will and do as he pleases, regardless of laws, procedures and practices.