Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saudi Arabia's National Day, Islam, and Tribalism: This is Big

Tired of Islamic tribalism and 'Death to people we don't like?' You aren't the only one.

Most Islamic events in the Middle East seem to include the same familiar themes: Death to America; Death to Israel; follow Islam or die. For some events, like Hajj, these 'death to people we don't like' celebrations seem to be more of a sideshow. Then, there are get-togethers like Al Quds Day that show all the tolerance of a Ku Klux Klan rally.

It's hard not to get the idea that Islam is dedicated to wiping out everyone who doesn't agree. Of course, people have gotten odd ideas about Christianity by observing the Klan, and assuming that all Christians are like them.

The Saudi kingdom, which regards itself as a protector of Islam, seems to be wrestling with the idea that declaring open season on network owners may not be entirely appropriate. (The chief Saudi judge's network fatwa was quite reasonable, in its own way: he said it was only okay to kill network owners if they were immoral.)

It's about time. There's reason to believe that Muslims on the street are getting fed up with crazy fatwas. That 'death to Mickey Mouse' outburst wasn't an isolated incident, and today's Middle East is no more isolated than any other place with electrical power and Internet connections.

The Saudi Monarch Says Terrorists are Giving Islam a Bad Name?!

It looks like Saudi Arabia has been going through some tough reality checks:
  • 2001: Saudi's leaders
    • Deny that any Saudis were involved in the 9/11 attacks
      • Until evidence piled up that the majority of the hijackers were Saudi citizens
    • Declare that foreigners were defaming Saudi Arabia by using the names and identities of Saudi citizens
  • 2007: Saudi Arabian jihad rehab program cures Al Qaeda fighters of terrorism
    • 1,500 Al Qaeda members released, after promising to commit no more terrorist attacks
      • On the Saudi Arabian peninsula
  • 2008: Saudi Arabia's king says that terrorists are giving Islam a bad name
This week's National Day statement was definitely not 'business as usual.' The news I've read doesn't say whether the Saudi king made his ground-breaking remarks in English, with a more standard-issue statement in Arabic, or whether we're looking at translations of what the king was saying to his subjects.

Either way, this is big. I think that there's a chance that a major player in the War on Terror may be realizing that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are no more good for Islam and Muslims than they are for anyone else.

In the news:

Same old, same old:
  • "ISO organizes Al-Quds rally"
    Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan) (September 27, 2008)
    • "KARACHI: Imamia Students Organization Pakistan (ISOP) President Asif Qambri has said that the issue of Al-Quds can only be resolved through war and insisted that his organization is ready to fight for the cause.
    • "Qambri was addressing the 'Al-Quds Rally' organized by ISO Karachi on Friday. The rally was attended by thousands of men, women and children and proceeded from the Numaish Chowrangi to Regal Chowk, Saddar.
    • "The rally was addressed by Maulana Munawar Naqvi, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Dr Mehraj-ul-Hudda Siddiqui, Maulana Mirza Yousuf Hussain, Agha Aftab Haider Jafferi, Maulana Shaikh Muhammad Hasan Salahuddin and Maulana Syed Ali Murtaza Zaidi.
    • "The speakers declared Israel as the biggest terrorists of the world and stressed the need to launch a war against the nation. 'If we really want to end terrorism, the elimination of Israel is essential,' they said. The speakers said that it was shameful that the first Qibla of Muslims, the Bait-ul-Muqaddas, was under the occupation of Jews...."
  • "Iran Denounces Support of Israel"
    Time (September 26, 2008)
    • "(TEHRAN, Iran) — A former Iranian president warned the West on Friday that its support for Israel would backfire, as hundreds of thousands of people staged rallies in support of Muslim claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.
    • "Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is still considered influential in Iranian politics, said the U.S., Britain and France back Israel — and this is dangerous.
    • " 'They will put themselves in trouble, eventually,' Rafsanjani said during a Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran marking 'Al-Quds Day.' Al-Quds is the Arabic word for Jerusalem...."
The Saudi king said what?!
  • "Change marks Saudi Arabia's National Day"
    CNN (September 27, 2008)
    • "(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia's National Day -- traditionally a day for reflections on self, religion and faith -- was marked Tuesday by an unexplained change in the traditionally conservative Saudi kingdom.
    • "Perhaps it was the kingdom's increasing access to the Internet, King Abdullah's efforts to reform and moderate his kingdom, general fatigue with the bad name imposed on Saudis by terrorists and other radicals who claim to represent them, or any combination of reasons.
    • " 'Unfortunately, the image of Islam is being tarnished by none other than Muslims themselves,' the monarch declared. He spoke clearly and repeated the word 'unfortunately' several times. 'If we want to be honest with ourselves, we have to accept this reality that the sons of Islam are the ones desecrating this pure religion,' he said, adding, 'Islam disowns them and disowns anyone who tries to give it a bad name.'...
    • "...In an editorial in the pro-government newspaper Al-Watan, columnist Saleh Muhammad al-Shihi expressed disappointment with what he calls his nation's limiting tribal mentality that stifles his longing for diversity.
    • " 'No one can leave the boundaries of the tribe whose name he carries,' he wrote. 'This tribe represents to you an existential value, but one that denies you the right to being different. It wants you to be a carbon copy of your seventh ancestor even down to your mustache... Many tribal rules are similar to the state laws. But state laws can be at least amended to serve the interests of the people, while no one dares amend tribal authority and rules.'
    • "Al-Shihi added, 'What is even more painful is that many of these tribal rules are on a par with many religious fatwas or edicts with the exception that tribal fatwas and rules don't die out even if half the tribe dies because of them I have come to experience and appreciate diversity. If I was not different, if you weren't different, if she wasn't different, we wouldn't be able to coexist in peace and happiness. We differ about the path as each of us has his own preferred path, yet we all agree on the destination.'..."
[Emphasis mine]

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.