Thursday, March 20, 2008

Liberalism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi clerics back death fatwa for liberal writers

6:31 a.m. March 19, 2008
RIYADH – A group of Saudi clerics has come out in support of a colleague who issued a fatwa saying two writers deserve to die if they did not retract views that he said made them apostates.
Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, one of the kingdom's most revered clerics, said in a rare fatwa last week the columnists should be tried for apostasy for 'heretical articles' published in al-Riyadh newspaper and put to death if they do not repent.

 They questioned the Sunni Muslim view in Saudi Arabia that adherents of other faiths should be considered unbelievers, which Barrak said implied Muslims were free to follow other religions and their faith was on a par with other religions.

A group of 20 clerics, all associated with Barrak, issued a statement on Tuesday asking God to support him in the face of a 'wicked attack' by liberals with 'polluted beliefs'.

'We know the Sheikh's knowledge in religion and status in the Islamic nation and trust Muslims place in his opinions ... The fatwa is based on the book of God (Koran) and the path of the Prophet,' they said in the statement posted on Web sites.

'The Sheikh's words were clear in placing the issue in the hands of the temporal authorities when he said that there must be a trial. We affirm there should be a trial.'

Barrak, who is thought to be around 75, is viewed by Islamists as the leading independent authority of Saudi Arabia's hardline version of Sunni Islam, often termed Wahhabism.

Liberal reformers are engaged in a battle with religious hardliners over the direction of the country, a key U.S. ally and the world's biggest oil exporter.

'This is in my view the largest show of force in the Wahhabi movement in a long time,' said Ali al-Ahmad, a Saudi opposition figure based in Washington.

Saudi Arabia regularly executes drug traffickers, rapists and murderers, but it is rare for calls to try or execute people for opinions expressed in public.

Rights groups have accused Wahhabism of a xenophobic attitude which demonises other religions.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So much for the two-state thing: PA stunt to flood Israel with "refugees"

The Palestinian Authority is planning to mark Israel's 60th anniversary by calling on all Palestinians living abroad to converge on Israel by land, sea and air, the Jerusalem Post reported. The plan, drawn by Ziad Abu Ein, a senior Fatah operative and Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs in the PA, states that the Palestinians have decided to implement United Nations Resolution 194, which deals with the refugees, unilaterally.

In effect, the plan represents the end of PA support for a two-state solution, and is clearly aimed at embarrassing Israel during its sixtieth anniversary celebrations. The PA plans to have "refugees" fly in to Ben Gurion airport between May 14 and 16, while at the same time other "refugees" will arrive by ship.

Article 11 of the resolution, which was passed in December 1948, says that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Iranian Students Urge Kidney Donations to Raise Funds for Bounty on Israeli Officials

TEHRAN —  Iranian students are offering rewards totaling a million dollars for the execution of three top Israeli military officers over the deadly strikes on Gaza, and they are encouraging fellow Iranians to donate their kidneys to raise the funds, the student news agency ISNA reported on Monday.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mossad spy agency director Meir Dagan and military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin are the targets of the bounty. They are blamed for last month's assassination of Hezbollah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.

The rewards were announced by the Justice Seeking Students Group on Sunday at a ceremony in Tehran entitled "setting the bounty for the revolutionary execution of the designers of state terrorism," ISNA said.

The bounty for Defense Minister Barak is set at $400,000 while those for Dagan and Yadlin are $300,000 each, AFP reports. It is not clear where the funds will come from.

"These sums will be given to any person or their families who could punish these individuals in any part of the world," the organizers of the event announced.

Pictures taken at the ceremony showed a banner bearing pictures of the three Israelis against the backdrop of an Israeli flag, with rifle sights stenciled onto the foreheads of the trio, according to AFP.

"Israel must be wiped off the map," read a quote from Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini printed atop the banner.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked international outrage when he repeated the quote at a conference after taking office in 2005. He has since then repeatedly predicted the imminent disappearance of the Jewish state.