Saudi Arabia’s religious police ‘contains extremists’
The mutawa enforce strict religious and social restrictions in the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom
Sheikh Abdul Latif al-Sheikh was quoted in the Saudi newspaper, Okaz, as saying that he would “eliminate” those he described as “advocates of sedition”.
He said calls for jihad were “void”.
His comments came after a royal decree on Monday specified jail terms of up to 20 years for Saudis who fight in a conflict abroad.
It also said Saudis who joined, endorsed or gave moral or material aid to “extremist religious and ideological groups, or those classified as terrorist organisations”, whether inside or outside the country, faced prison.
The interior ministry estimates that around 1,200 Saudis have travelled to Syria to fight since the uprising began in March 2011.
Many of them have joined Islamist rebel groups that the Saudi government reportedly supports with money and weapons.
However, it fears that Saudi jihadists could switch their attention to their homeland, as happened when many returned from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Bosnia in the 1980s and 1990s.
Published time: January 26, 2014 19:23
Edited time: January 27, 2014 10:39
Pope Francis (C) watches as children release doves during the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican January 26, 2014 (Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for the start of a “constructive dialogue” in Ukraine, releasing two white doves to symbolize the hope for peace. However, the doves were immediately attacked by a crow and a seagull.
Addressing tens of thousands of people gathered in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s weekly Angelus prayer, the pontiff said that his thoughts and prayers were with the victims of the Ukrainian unrest.
“I am close to Ukraine in prayer, in particular to those who have lost their lives in recent days and to their families,” Pope Francis said.
He then raised hopes for a “constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society,” urging both sides to avoid violence and reminding that “the spirit of peace and a search for the common good” should be “in the hearts of all.”
In a symbolic peace gesture, two white doves were then released by children standing alongside Pope Francis.
A dove which was freed by children flanked by Pope Francis during the Angelus prayer, is chased by a black crow in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Mourners carry the coffin of a man killed during Saturday’s clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo. Photograph: Ahmed Omar/AP
Standing in the forecourt of Cairo’s Zeinhom mortuary, waiting to pick up the corpse of his friend, Amr Hussein could scarcely believe he was there. “I thought we were done with this,” said Hussein, 23. “I thought the revolution would be the start of a new era.”
Hussein’s classmate, Mohamed Yehia, was shot dead by police on Saturday, the third anniversary of the Egyptian uprising – a day that was meant to be a celebration.
But for many it was instead one of protest and mourning, with officials confirming on Sunday that 49 people had been killed in nationwide protests against the regime installed last July by the army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Fierce clashes raged in several neighbourhoods across the country, with armoured police vehicles charging at protesters in downtown Cairo.
Supporters of Egypt‘s ousted Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, as well as activists opposed to the authoritarianism of both Morsi and Sisi, took part – and 1,079 people were arrested.
“This is not the Egypt that we are looking for,” said Ayman Abdelmeguid, a spokesman for the 6 April group, the secular youth movement that organised many of the first protests against Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Violence of a different kind continued on Sunday in the Sinai peninsular, where Islamist extremists ambushed and killed three policemen. It continued a militant surge against security forces that saw four bombs explode in Cairo on Friday, and an army helicopter allegedly shot down on Saturday.
CAIRO — Thousands of Egyptians celebrated the third anniversary of their revolt against autocracy on Saturday by holding a rally for the military leader who ousted the country’s first democratically elected president. Elsewhere, at least 49 people died in clashes with security forces at rival antigovernment protests organized by Islamists and left-leaning activists.
In at least on-e case, the Islamists and liberals chanted against each other. But within as little as 15 minutes, riot police officers began firing tear-gas cannons and shooting guns into the air, swiftly dispersing the protests and leaving the day to the military leader, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.
The violence escalated as the day went on. The Way of the Revolution Front, a group opposed to the Islamists as well as the military takeover, urged its supporters to retreat from the streets in the face of what it called “the excessive force that police are using against whoever tries to express their opinion.”
By Sunday morning, health officials said the death toll from clashes with the police had reached at least 49, most killed in the Cairo area. Security officials said more than 1,000 were arrested around the country. By Saturday night, more than 430 had been arrested in greater Cairo alone.
In the canal city of Suez, a car bomb at a police camp wounded four officers, officials said, the latest in a campaign of attacks on security forces since the military takeover. The violence on Saturday came a day after four bombings around the capital killed at least six people and clashes with the police killed another eight. But the government appeared determined to prevent any of the protests or deaths from dimming the spectacle of the rally for General Sisi, or the momentum of his presumed presidential campaign.
The enthusiasm of his supporters, however, also hinted at some of the outsize expectations he might face in office.
Hassan Shehab, 52, a shopkeeper carrying a poster of a son killed by security forces during the 2011 uprising, said he believed General Sisi would “turn Egypt from a third-world country to a first-world country” while bringing justice for the revolution’s “martyrs.”
“He will hold the police accountable and put them on trial, as soon as they get rid of the terrorism of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Mr. Shehab said.
The Brotherhood, an eight-decades-old Islamist organization, sponsored the most successful party in Egypt’s free elections in 2011 and 2012. Its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, became president and held that position until he was ousted by the military in July amid swelling street protests against him.
The military has been portraying the Brotherhood as a terrorist threat ever since. On Friday, government officials quickly blamed it for the day’s four bombings.
In this image made from video broadcast on Egyptian State Television, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour speaks at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.
January 26, 2014
CAIRO — Egypt’s interim president has announced a change in the country’s political road map, placing presidential elections as the next step in the transition after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year.
The plan was unveiled one day after clashes between police and protesters left 49 people killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 arrested.
Interim President Adly Mansour’s decision to hold the presidential election next was widely expected.
While last year’s road map placed parliamentary elections first, the newly approved constitution allows Mansour to decide which comes first.
A popular groundswell and government-organized support for Defense Minister Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, who ousted the country’s first freely-elected civilian president after mass protests against his rule, to run as president have been building in recent months.
Other candidates who have expressed interest in running have qualified their bids, saying they would not take part if General Sissi campaigns.
Posters, masks and signs heralding Sissi’s leadership were at the center of celebrations of the third anniversary of Egypt’s revolution Saturday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
But just off the square, as well as across Cairo and the country, opponents to the general and the military-backed interim government turned out for rallies and marches. Clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, as well as secular activists, were the deadliest this year.
Early presidential election is called in Egypt day after killing of 49 protesters
By REUTERS 01/26/2014
Change to the post-Morsi political timetable could pave way for swift election of Sisi.
Egypt women Brotherhood protesting 370 Photo: REUTERS
CAIRO- Egypt will hold a presidential vote before parliamentary polls, President Adly Mansour said on Sunday, in a change to a political roadmap that could pave the way for the swift election of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Parliamentary elections were supposed to be held first under the timetable drawn up after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July following mass protests against his rule.
“I have taken my decision to amend the roadmap for the future in that we will start by holding presidential elections first followed by the parliamentary elections,” interim leader Mansour said in a televised speech.
Critics have campaigned for a change of the roadmap, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before potentially divisive parliamentary elections.
Sisi is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency within days and win by a landslide. His supporters see him as a strong, decisive figure able to stabilize Egypt.
The Brotherhood accuses him of masterminding a coup and holds him responsible for widespread human rights abuses in a crackdown against the movement which has killed up to 1,000 Islamists and put top leaders behind bars.
While tough measures against the Brotherhood have nearly crippled it, security forces have failed to contain an Islamist insurgency. Militant attacks have raised fears for the stability of Egypt, of great strategic importance because of its peace treaty with Israel and control over the Suez Canal.
A new constitution voted in earlier this month cleared the way for a change in the order of the elections by leaving open the question of which should come first.
“It was an expected move amid the growing signs that Sisi is being groomed to become the next president,” said Khaled Dawoud, a well-known liberal activist.
Mansour did not announce a date for the presidential vote. The constitution says steps towards holding the first of the elections should be begin no later than 90 days from the ratification of the document in mid-January.
I’m not sure if Islamic law is the worst thing ever… but it’s probably the worst thing ever for women.
I keep hearing that Mohammed was the original feminist and that Islamic law protects women. Also the State Department praised the moderate Muslim president of moderate Muslim Maldives for being elected through democratic values.
The US has congratulated Abdulla Yameen on him being elected as the new President of the Maldives, and called the association between the two countries as “a long history of cordial relations”.
“The extraordinarily high turnout on November 16th was a tribute to the Maldivian people’s commitment to the democratic process and democratic values,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday.
Yameen is the half-brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, center, was sworn into the presidency on Nov. 17, 2013. Photo by Maldivian government (press release).
Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen refused to sign a bill Thursday that criminalizes some forms of marital rape, Religion News Service reported. Though the bill passed parliament with 67-2 vote, Yameen rejected the legislation, which limits a husband’s right to demand sex from his wife, because it was “un-Islamic.“
The bill did not criminalize all marital rape, but banned it under the following circumstances:
if a case for dissolution of a marriage is in court
while a divorce, filed by the husband or wife, is pending a court hearing
if the intent of intercourse is to transmit a sexually transmitted disease
When Qatar’s royal family was looking for advice on charitable giving, it turned to a well-regarded professor named Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi. The 59-year-old educator had a stellar résumé that included extensive fundraising experience and years of work with international human rights groups.
But one apparent accomplishment was omitted from the list: According to U.S. officials, Nu’aymi also was working secretly as a financier for al-Qaeda, funneling millions of dollars to the terrorist group’s affiliates in Syria and Iraq even as he led campaigns in Europe for greater freedoms for Muslims.
Nu’aymi was one of two men identified by Treasury Department officials last week as major financial backers of al-Qaeda and its regional chapters across the Middle East. Although U.S. officials routinely announce steps to disrupt terrorist financing networks, the individuals named in the latest case are far from ordinary. Both men have served as advisers to government-backed foundations in Qatar and have held high-profile positions with international human rights groups. The second man, a Yemeni, is heavily involved in his country’s U.S.-backed political transition.
Their alleged dual roles — promoting humanitarian causes and civil rights while simultaneously supporting extremist groups — reflect a growing challenge for counterterrorism officials attempting to monitor the torrents of cash flowing to Islamist rebel groups in Syria, current and former U.S. officials say.
“Individuals with one foot in the legitimate world and another in the realm of terrorist financing provide al-Qaeda with a cloak of legitimacy,” said Juan Zarate, a former Treasury Department official and author of “Treasury’s Wars,” a book that describes U.S. efforts to penetrate terrorist financial networks. Zarate said such cases greatly complicate the “financial diplomacy” involved in attempting to disrupt terrorist support networks, especially private funding from wealthy Persian Gulf donors seeking to help Syria’s rebels.
Despite attempts by gulf states to crack down on jihadist financial networks, former and current U.S. officials have described a surge in private support for Islamist extremists in Syria, particularly in Qatar and Kuwait.
A Christian resident of the Israeli city of Nazareth has come up with a plan to erect a 100-foot-tall statute of the community’s most famous native son, Jesus Christ. The proposed monument, which would reportedly be similar to the one that towers over the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is the idea of Bishara Shlayan, a merchant seaman who, reported Fox News, “has seen the demographics of Nazareth change considerably in recent years, with the Christian community becoming a minority while the Muslim population has grown to 70 percent of the 80,000 residents of the northern Israeli town.”
Shlayan, a Christian Arab, told Fox that “slowly, but surely, the Christian identity in Nazareth is beginning to disappear,” pointing to signs that festoon the city’s main square with decidedly non-Christian slogans such as “There is no power but Allah.”
A group of Christians led by Shlayan has asked for permission from the Israeli government to erect the statue atop what is known locally as Mount Precipice, supposedly the locale, mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 4:29-30, where a mob of locals attempted to throw Jesus off a hill — but were prevented from doing so when Jesus, “passing through the midst of them, went his way.”
Bishara Shlayan wants to build huge Jesus statue on Mount Precipice, near his home city in the Galilee.
THE ‘CHRIST the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: REUTERS
Bishara Shlayan, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, is hoping to build a huge statue of Jesus on Mount Precipice, near his home city.
Shlayan told The Jerusalem Post in an interview that he has already begun fund-raising for the project and that he is getting positive feedback from the Israeli Arab Christian community as well as some Jews.
He sees the statue as being similar to but larger than the huge Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Shlayan is also looking to found a Christian Arab political party, which he says is still being sorted out, but has settled on the name “Bnei Habrit [Allies of the Covenant], the Christian party of Israel.”
The party would support Israel as a Jewish state and national or army service for Arabs.
“I created the Bnei Habrit party and now I have created the Diglei Habrit [Flags of the Covenant] organization,” in order to carry out the statue project, he said.
Mount Precipice, also known as Mount Kedumim, is believed by some to be the place where the people of Nazareth attempted to push Jesus off the mountain after rejecting him as the messiah. In the end he was able to jump off and disappeared, according to Christian tradition.
When Shlayan was in Jerusalem a month ago, he said he met Tourism Minister Uzi Landau by chance and asked him about the statue idea. Shlayan says that Landau said, “Start it, and we will bless it.”
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson holds a picture of Claire Davis, the 17-year-old student who was shot at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo.
By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News
The 17-year-old senior who was in a coma after being shot point-blank at a Colorado high school last week died Saturday with her family at her side, hospital officials said.
Claire Esther Davis, a senior at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., was critically injured when student Karl Halverson Pierson, 18, entered the school building on Dec. 13 armed with a shotgun and Molotov cocktail bombs.
In a statement posted on the Littleton Adventist Hospital’s Facebook page, officials said Claire’s injuries “were too severe and the most advanced medical treatments could not prevent this tragic loss of life.”
The teen passed away at 4:29 p.m. local time (6:29 p.m. ET).
“Claire’s death is immensely heartbreaking for our entire community, our staff and our families,” the statement added.
Authorities said Pierson’s attack lasted just 80 seconds. Officials believe the teen was angry after losing his coveted spot on the debate team.
“His intent was evil and his evil intent was to harm multiple individuals,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said last week.
Upon entering the school, Robinson said, Pierson fired one round down the hallway. He then shot Claire, who just happened to be sitting nearby with a friend as he headed toward the library. Claire suffered severe head trauma, which put her in a coma.
COMMENTARY |According to the Daily Caller, Catholic priests who attempt to minister to troops during the government shutdown have been threatened with arrest by the Obama administration. This has naturally provoked outrage.
“Because of the lack of active-duty Catholic chaplains, the military relies on hiring civilian priests to serve as government service and contract ministers. Those civilian priests are not allowed on the bases during a shutdown.”
The Obama administration has displayed contempt for religious sensibilities, especially of Catholics, before. Under Obamacare, Catholic owned hospitals and other entities are required to offer birth control, sterilization, and even abortion pills against church doctrine under threat of heavy fines.
The Obama edict which, in effect, makes military bases religion free zones has sparked outrage among Republicans. “These priests have 1st Amendment right to practice faith. Hope POTUS takes possible criminal penalties off the table,” Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas tweeted. The House Republicans will offer legislation reversing the edict. There is no word whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will reject it as he has most other attempts by the House to ameliorate the effects of the government shutdown and the Obama administration’s drive to make it as annoying as possible.
In a stunning development, some military priests are facing arrest if they celebrate mass or practice their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.
“With the government shutdown, many [government service] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer,” wrote John Schlageter, the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, in an op-ed this week. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”
According to its website, the Archdiocese for the Military Services “provides the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces.”
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to neighboring Jordan from their home country in light of the ongoing war in Syria. The distress in the hopelessly overcrowded refugee camps is great. Unscrupulous traffickers have recognized this and made a business out of it. So-called ‘matchmakers’ sell Syrian refugee teenager girls to rich Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia.
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