Saudi cleric condemns snowmen as anti-Islamic


A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.

Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country’s north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun.”

Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.

“God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on,” he wrote in his ruling.

Thanks to Brian F. for the tip!

Source: Saudi cleric condemns snowmen as anti-Islamic | Reuters

Ramadan 2014: We Can Deport Anyone Who Eats, Drinks or Smokes, Saudi Arabia Tells Non-Muslims

Ramadan 2014

Saudi Arabia has threatened to deport any non-Muslim foreigners who don’t respect the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan by eating, drinking or smoking in public.

An interior ministry statement on the official SPA state news agency urges non-Muslim expatriates in the kingdom to “respect the sentiments of Muslims by not eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan’s daylight hours in public places, including roads and workplaces.”

Those who violate the regulations will be deported or sacked, according to the statement.

“They are not excused for being non-Muslim,” it said, adding that “anyone living in this country should follow the laws of the Kingdom, including respecting religious sentiments”.

The statement also asked companies to transmit the instructions to their employees.

Millions of Muslims from around the globe are preparing to observe Ramadan, the religious month of fasting.

For 30 days, they will not eat or drink from sunrise and sundown and refrain from sexual intercourse, smoking or profanity in a bid to become closer to Allah.

They are also encouraged to give back to the community and take part in charitable deeds.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict version of sharia law and it hosts more than nine million foreigners.

via Ramadan 2014: We Can Deport Anyone Who Eats, Drinks or Smokes, Saudi Arabia Tells Non-Muslims.

Saudi Arabia orders 1,000 lashes and ten-year sentence for editor of website that discussed religion

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced the editor of a website that discussed religion in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber-crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the Arab state, local media has reported.

His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and allegedly insulted Islam and religious authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.

Prosecutors had demanded Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, but this was dismissed by the judge.

Badawi was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial – which then earned him a more severe sentence.

His punishment comes shortly after Saudi Arabia criticised Norway’s human rights record and accused it of not doing enough to counter criticism of the prophet Mohammed.

The gulf state also demanded all criticism of religion and of the Prophet Mohammed be made illegal in Norway.

Badawi’s lawyer, human rights activist Waleed Abu al-Khair, will not be able to represent him in an appeal because he has also been jailed and is currently awaiting trial on criminal charges that include “breaking allegiance with the king,” and “making international organisations hostile to the kingdom”.

His retrial led the judge to impose a harsher punishment and fine him one million riyals (£157,000).

In April, the Kingdom introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to HRW.

via Saudi Arabia orders 1,000 lashes and ten-year sentence for editor of website that discussed religion – Middle East – World – The Independent.

Kuwaiti woman arrested for driving in Saudi Arabia: report

women driving in Saudi Arabia

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for trying to drive her father to hospital, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Sunday, a week after Saudi women protested against a ban on female drivers.

Kuwaiti women are free to drive in their country and enjoy far more rights than those in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to travel abroad, open a bank account or work without permission from a male relative.

The English language Kuwait Times said the woman was driving in an area just over the border, with her father in the passenger seat, when she was stopped by police. Kuwaitis and Saudi locals regularly cross the border and communities living along the frontier are often a mix of people from both countries.

The woman, who said her diabetic father could not drive and needed to be taken to hospital for treatment, is being held in custody pending an investigation, the paper said, citing police.

The paper did not suggest that the woman was protesting Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers.

Kuwaiti woman arrested for driving in Saudi Arabia: report – Yahoo News Canada

Amnesty says Saudi rights record getting worse

King Abdullah

Amnesty International on Monday said Saudi Arabia had failed to act on UN recommendations and “ratcheted up the repression” since 2009, with the arbitrary detention and torture of activists.

The London-based watchdogs statement was released ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss the oil-rich kingdoms record, and comes after Riyadh rejected a seat on the UN Security Council, citing the international bodys “double standards” and inability to resolve regional conflicts.

“Saudi Arabia’s previous promises to the UN have been proven to be nothing but hot air,” said Amnestys MENA director Philip Luther, accusing the kingdom of relying “on its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticising its dire human rights record.”

In its report titled “Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises,” Amnesty criticised “an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment over the past four years” in the kingdom.

“Not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression? since 2009, said Luther.

“For all the peaceful activists that have been arbitrary detained, tortured or imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since, the international community has a duty to hold the authorities to account,” he said.

Amnesty renewed calls for Saudi authorities to release two prominent rights activists handed heavy jailed terms in March.

Mohammed al-Gahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed were sentenced to 11 and 10 years imprisonment respectively for violating a law on cybercrime by using Twitter to denounce various aspects of political and social life in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

They are co-founders of the independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association ACPRA.

“These men are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Luther.

“Their peaceful activism against human rights violations deserves praise not punishment. The only guilty party here is the government,” he added.

Amnesty says Saudi rights record getting worse – Depeche – France 24