Posts Tagged ‘Al-Qaeda’

A Man Like No Other

02/03/2012

Saudi Arabia is known in the Western Media as the Kingdom of Silence. I can agree with such claim up till the time when the Internet was first introduced in the country. By the end of the 90s, many Saudis started using the Internet. It was the first time many of them had a chance to say whatever they wish without being worried. It was time when you could say anything you wish so freely. Everything was up to discussion including politics and religion.

Things escalated a bit more than what expected when the Internet was used as a media to gain support for Al-Qaeda inside and outside the Kingdom and to express some extreme opinions either against the Saudi regime or against some of the local minorities like Shia. However, that was not the only negative aspect of the Internet dialogues and discussions. Some Saudi Internet sites adopted very aggressive points of views against the Wahhabi ideology which is a pillar part of the society and political system. It seemed that nothing is away from discussions even the concept of Allah, Prophet Mohammed and Islam itself. The Government cracked down very successfully all Al-Qaeda support websites mainly after the attacks that took place inside the Kingdom back in 2003. However, the more “liberal” Internet forums had their ups and downs but without any cases of arrests of the ones behind them, as I know.

The new freedom of expression developed through the Internet forums brought to the local intellectuals the ideas of human rights. The Kingdom was regularly under the radar of international human rights agencies and NGOs for its less than good record on human rights. The new thing since 2001 was that locals started giving the issue some more attention. Issues like the handling of house maids and “kafeel” system got more criticism by the opinion writers in local newspapers and Internet forums. The blogs also played a very good role in spreading the appreciation of the ideas and values of human rights. Nowadays more Saudis talk about human rights and can clearly see some obvious violations to these rights in many aspects of day-to-day life. The case of detainees who are still in jail without prosecution or specific charges got during last year a lot of attention. The hash tag #e3teqal in Twitter was very active with many stories and news about those detainees. The number of these detainees is not really known but some sources talk about 30,000 of them. The apparent reason for detaining most of them is their potential links to terrorism.

It is unfortunate that the Western media is not covering such stories . It might seem a bit difficult to cover the stories of hundreds or thousands of detainees. But would it be difficult to cover the story of one man? I guess it should not!. This man is called Mohammed AlBjady. Mohammed was not detained for any potential links to terrorism. He now spent a year in detention because he joined a group of detainees’ families in a rare protest near the Saudi Ministry of Interior demanding the freedom of those detainees. Mohammed AlBjady is really a rare case in a country like Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed AlBjady

He is educated and possesses a good financial wealth. However, he always stands by his values and what he thinks is right for him country. He is a father of Lara and Turki. He had no reason to stand by the rights of those detainees except that he believes it is the right thing to do. No one really knows how long Mohammed will stay in jail before joining his wife and kids. No one knows how many others like Mohammed will be needed to really make the issues of human rights in Saudi Arabia of higher priority to both the government and the citizens. What I am sure about is one thing; Mohammed is a man like no other. Mohammed started 12 days ago a hunger strike demanding his rights for a fair trial. Mohammed is really demonstrating a new wave of activism Saudi Arabia never seen before. The question is how much such sacrifices will inspire others in the future to act as bravely.

In solidarity with Mohammed AlBjady two new hash tags started lately in Twitter which are #Albjady and #AlbjadyHungerStrike with the hope of making them trend internationally. More details can be found about the campaign and Mohammed himself through Twitter account: SaudiDetainees

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Thomas Friedman – Saudi Wahabism

16/05/2011

So Thomas Friedman says the reason for the appearance of Osama Bin Laden on the global scene is the Wahhabi ideology, well that is either incomplete research or denial.

Having followed Friedman for a while, and having been in awe of his “knowledge” when I first knew about him +10 years ago, I know personally how he seems convincing, but he does have an agenda which includes making everyone in the region look bad, and almost never finding fault with Israel.

Thomas Friedman

Yes, the alliance between The Saudi family and Mohammad Ibn Abdulawahab goes back for decades, we learned that in school, that is no secret, what Friedman missed is a very big sign.

Maybe he never listened to Bin Laden speak, maybe he never heard his reasoning, if he did hear and analyse Bin Laden’s speeches, then he is denying and misleading his readers, if he didn’t hear or read the speeches, then he is BS-ing them, and on both accounts he should be ashamed.

I remember a Bin Laden speech after 911, it was the weekend in Saudi and my friends and I were planning on watching The Patriot, but like everyone we wanted to hear Bin Laden’s message, AlJazeera made everyone know what time it would air, he talked about Sykes-Picot, he talked about the Israeli occupation, he talked about the things the West does, and how when they are treated with the same they cry, the metaphor was something like when a sheep rams a wolf which is taking it’s young he cries foul play. That speech ruined the Patriot movie for my friends and I.

The carrot that extremist dangle in front of gullible believers is the Israeli occupation and the treatment of Palestinians. The promise to pray in the holy Al-Aqsa mosque, which they cannot go to, even Al-Oraifi tried to highlight that issue in his own special way.

Israel is an apartheid state, many are finally beginning to realize that fact and cutting funding, some Americans do not want their tax money to go to Israel, but it still flows, which is funny to me because I thought as a democracy, tax payers can say where they want their money to go. 6.8 million US dollars per day go to Israel, with nothing in return, at least the US is getting oil in return from Saudi, which of course they get their money back by Saudi buying American cars, and US franchises opening up all over Saudi, and of course arms deals, along with other things here and there.

I am an advocate for non violence, I disagree with many of the “wahabi” ways, but I also understand that when you keep telling them to be peaceful yet non peaceful methods are being used against them… Well, most People are not from Nazareth and their conception was not immaculate, so don’t expect them to be able to turn the other cheek.

So will you, Thomas freedman, as an “expert” on the region, ever tell your country to see that they are helping the carrot grow.

Just in case you missed my point, you said America gives money to Saudi, Saudi gives money to extremist, let’s not give money to Saudi so they cannot give money to extremist.

America also gives a lot of money in return for nothing to Israel, Israel with its history of violence and continuing violence fuels the extremist, who then go look for funding, you see how you missed that big part of the picture?

America gets less than 10% of its oil from Saudi, which means that America’s dependence on Saudi oil is minimal.

You know, the vibe after the soviet retreat from Afghanistan was for the mujahideen to go to Palestine and liberate it, that was the carrot… And it still is, and you know what, even peaceful protesters (you know, the ones who took out Mubarak) are now willing to march peacefully into the Gaza strip, oh, and the Muslim brotherhood is not behind this, actually it is not in favor of it.

So either Israel becomes a real democracy (because it is going nowhere, not in any near future), and make every Arab envy the Arab-Israelis, or please stop the half-baked hypotheses… wait, no or… Just stop the half-baked hypotheses, you already bragged about how you do not really read the details of the policies you advocate… but then again, you have a mortgage to pay… come to think about it, no you don’t, you married into one of the 100 richest families in America.

By Qusay

In the Middle of the Noise

23/02/2011

The Arab World is going through a very historic time. The head of states in Tunisia and Egypt have had changed after 23 and 30 years in power, respectively. Libyans are strongly pushing for changing their current regime which is lead by Mumar Al-Ghadafi for more than 40 years. The regimes in Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria and Morocco are also faced by different levels of popular uprising.

 

Many of the people in the other Arab countries are following what is happening in these countries with mix feelings of fear, hope, excitement and unbelief. People are so fearful of how things might end up and of the number of victims that might be caused by these uprising. Yet they are so hopeful and excited about tomorrow and how it’ll be shaped once the normal people have finally a say over how their countries shall be run and developed. Till this moment I, sometimes, feel that what had happened in a month is just a dream because it was so hard to even think of before.

 

What about Saudi Arabia? Would the world see similar uprising in the land of oil? What do you think about as a Saudi of what is going on?. These are for sure questions in the minds of many people around the world, especially diplomats and journalists. I personally think that what happened in Tunisia and Egypt was not something that can be predicted to happen, then I think that the predictable is not really the norm these days in the Arab World. The predictable in Saudi Arabia is that nothing will happen. Things, regardless of how much I can complain, are very different compared to many other places in the world. However, I believe that there are at least four groups of Saudis when it comes to how a Saudi might interact with what is going on in the Arab World. The first group consists of those who don’t care much because they live isolated from what is going on, either because they are rich and live the elite life or poor enough to have most of their focus on what is in their food table every day. There is no way to really quantify this group in numbers. Yet, as more of this group becomes engaged in what is going on and feel that they must have a say over what is going on, the shift in power then might spark the unpredictable.

 

The second group includes Al-Qaeda supports and alike those who believe in overthrowing the government using violence. I heard many analysts claim that Al-Qaeda is losing ground in the Arab World these days because people can see an alternative to the violence Al-Qaeda adopted in its effort for change. On the short term, I agree. However, on the long term, time only can tell. If things improve in Tunisia and Egypt and the rest of the Arab World, the legitimacy of Al-Qaeda tactics will diminish. Yet, if things don’t improve or the new governments in the new Arab World adopt constitutions that are rejected by Al-Qaeda, more supports might be then following the route of Al-Qaeda seeking change in their countries.

 

The third group consists of those who are hopeful of change that lead to democracy, human rights and the state of institutions. This group in Saudi Arabia includes Islamic reformists, liberals (or so called), many females, educated younger generations and others. The latest calls for change in Saudi Arabia coincided with the return of King Abdullah after a long medical treatment trip. So far, I am aware of three letters that were signed by more than three thousands Saudis asking for reforms. These letters represents the voice of this group and the three letters had many basic common demands including an agreed upon constitution, elections for Shura Council, the release of many long term prisons who are in jail without trial, and Separation of the executive, legislative and judicial the powers. My friend and fellow Saudi blogger Ahmed Al-Omran translated the last of the three letters in the link here (Declaration of a National Reform). This group has been active in the cyberspace for the past few years. The current changes in Tunisia and Egypt inspired this stream and created more followers to its desires.

 

The Saudis who are not comfortable with change and think that things are not that bad represent the fourth group. This group includes various group of citizens who believe in the system and cannot see themselves crabapple or responsible of change. They feel that the government is the sole responsible about what to do to them and for the future of the country. I personally believe that this group is one of the larger groups, however cannot make much of difference since they are passive and expect things to happen to them by the government.

 

The last group consists of those who usually adopt the government and religious clerks. Some friends think that this set of people is getting smaller as people are exposed to more sources of information and discussions. I don’t completely agree since I believe that many Saudis trust the government decisions and look for the opinion of the pro-government religious institution in almost every problem.  

 

The interaction between these five groups and the government will be very crucial in determining the future of Saudi Arabia. It is extremely difficult to predict what exactly might happen, but it is evident that more Saudis demand more changes and freedoms inside their country. So far the government did not show much of understanding of what type of earthquake is hitting the Arab World. A very generous financial support package was announced through Royal Decrees but some Saudis felt that the government is not listening to their hopes. I personally felt very disappointed. In the era of new Arab revolutions, a financial package felt like a bribe that does not address the real constant issues in the country. The package will benefit some Saudis greatly, yet the prominent issue in the past was not the lack of the financial resources but the extremely weak monitoring of how these resources are spent and misuse of these resources.  I am dreaming of a constitution, elections and freedom of speech. If not enough Saudis show their readiness to be in charge of their future and take some risk and pressure the government to adopt change, things will be difficult to move ahead and completely dependent on the government’s choices only.

Collateral Murder: Two Points

07/04/2010

The lately leaked videotape by Wikileaks that showed a war crime executed by soldiers of the US army in Iraq back in 2007 will generate lots of discussion and point fingering to the US Army and before that foreign policies and practices. I will not doubt that it is worth to highlight the cold blood execution everyone saw in the tape and I personally believe that it is not that only incident when innocent Iraqis, and in other places innocents human beings, were killed in a similar brutal manner. However, what strikes me is that many around the world and more specifically in the Arab and Islamic countries receive such tapes with shock and strong condemnation of what happened, while such attitude is not strongly shown when the criminals are either Arabs, Muslims or not Westerns.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, many innocent people died because of attacks carried out by either Al-Qaeda or Taliban or any other “Islamic” group. Always there are voices that condemn such unjustified killings but such voices are neither widely heard nor well accepted.  I do not doubt the right of Iraqis and Afghans to defend their country against the American occupation but I clearly see a difference between liberating a country and killing innocent people in the markets, buses and around religious shrines. Killing an innocent person is a crime regardless of who is behind it.

In Saudi Arabia, Al-Qaeda attacks caused many causalities yet I can claim that the tone of condemnation is rarely as strong as when the media leaks some of the wrong doings of the US either army or investigators. I personally hate the unjust practiced by the US in many places around the globe, yet I do find it unfair to look to the mistakes of others while we are not dealing with our own mistakes.

On the other hand, I was listening last night to the BBC program “Have your say” and one of the guests was an American journalist who kept saying “it is war, what do you expect?”. Honestly what I heard him saying was “They are damn Arabs, why shall we care!”. Why? Because I cannot imagine the same attitude and unemotional tone if the victims were Americans. Overall, the tape shows a real disrespect to human life represented by: 1)Firing on unarmed individuals who were trying to help an injured person who cannot be a source of any threat, 2)The eagerness to fire at the van and 3)the laugh. It is war but even then I don’t think human should turn to be inhuman.

Such incident shows how the importance of media and its role in exposing things that many would like to keep under the carpet. In my country, I wish we can clean up so many things and keep nothing under the carpet.