Mohammed Bin Salman Is Making Muslims Boycott Mecca

By Ahmed Twaij, Foreign Policy

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has attempted to cast Saudi Arabia in a more positive light and mask the country’s more aggressive internal and foreign policies by undertaking so-called liberal reforms. But it has not been enough to silence those who continue to draw attention to his government’s human rights abuses.

The rising death toll of civilians killed by Saudi bombs in Yemen, the horrific slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and Riyadh’s aggressive approach to Iran have led some of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies to reconsider their unwavering support for the kingdom.

In late April, Libya’s most prominent Muslim Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani, called for all Muslims to boycott the hajj – the obligatory pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca.

He went so far as to claim that anyone who embarked on a second pilgrimage was conducting “an act of sin rather than a good deed.” The reasoning behind the boycott is the suggestion that boosting Saudi Arabia’s economy through pilgrimage continues to fuel arms purchases and direct attacks on Yemen – and indirectly Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, and Algeria. Ghariani added that investment in the hajj would “help Saudi rulers to carry out crimes against our fellow Muslims.”

Ghariani is not the first prominent Muslim scholar to support a ban on the hajj. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, also a Sunni cleric and vocal critic of Saudi Arabia, announced a fatwa in August last year banning the pilgrimage, instead stating, “Seeing Muslims feeding the hungry, treating the sick, and sheltering the homeless are better viewed by Allah than spending money on the hajj.”

Saudi Arabia’s influence is not merely linked to its political and military capacity but also to its historical ties to Islam. As the home of both Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest sites and the location of the Kaaba and burial place of Prophet Muhammad respectively, Saudi Arabia’s influence extends far beyond its Arab neighbors but to the Muslim world in general. More than 2.3 million Muslims from all sects flock to Mecca during the annual hajj pilgrimage and many more throughout the year, making visiting Saudi Arabia an aspiration for many Muslims around the world.

This relationship with Islam has instinctively led many from the Sunni Arab world to look to the kingdom for daily guidance on religious issues. In response to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and fear of it cascading throughout the region, Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars exporting its brand of Islam through the funding of mosques around the world, many of which have been linked to … extremism in the West, as it claims to be leader of the Muslim world.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been working toward becoming a regional hegemon in the Middle East, whose claim to power, in recent years, is threatened only by Iran. As one of the world’s largest oil exporters with close ties to the United States, Saudi Arabia found itself basking in the steadfast support of many of its neighboring states for decades.

Despite mounting evidence of the royal family’s role in the “premeditated execution” of Khashoggi, the Trump administration hastily discredited any indication of Saudi involvement in the killing, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently neglecting to mention the topic when meeting with Saudi King Salman. The White House and US State Department might be willing to turn a blind eye, but fellow Muslims have not been as forgiving.

Throughout the Middle East and in other Muslim-majority nations, there has been growing concern over the slaying of Khashoggi, as well as the rising death toll in Yemen, which is expected to reach 230,000 by 2020 through the often indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition –which has bombed hospitals, funerals, children’s school buses, and weddings – in what has been described as the “worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time” by UN officials. Saudi Arabia’s truculent approach to the Yemen war has isolated itself within its own coalition; even the Emirati government has shown some discomfort toward the Saudi approach.

Saudi Arabia’s atrocities have provoked persistent global condemnation, with calls for banning weapons trade with the country. Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have recently pushed back on President Donald Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and Germany has banned such trade with the country since last October. Adding to the list, Switzerland and Italy have also moved toward banning arms trade with Saudi Arabia, and a British court recently ruled that arms deals with Saudi Arabia may have been unlawful. Ghariani has gone one step further in calling for a boycott of the country from its largest annual contingent of tourists during the hajj.

Unlike past attempts to boycott Saudi Arabia, the current effort has crossed the sectarian divide.

In 2011, Riyadh violently repressed Bahrain’s popular uprising at the request of the Bahraini government. The protests were led by Shiite Muslims, who are a majority in the Sunni-ruled country, and Iraqi activists reacted by calling for a boycott of all Saudi products. Protests across Iraq were organized and attended by Shiite clerics, academics, and politicians alike. At the time, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that if the Saudi-led violence were to continue, “the region may be drawn into a sectarian war.”

Today, calls for boycotting the kingdom have spiraled and they aren’t just coming from Shiites. The hashtag #boycotthajj has been trending on Twitter, amassing nearly 16,000 tweets. Sunni clerics around the world have also called for a boycott. The Tunisian Union of Imams said in June that

“the money [from the hajj] that goes to Saudi authorities is not used to help poor Muslims around the world. Instead it is used to kill and displace people as is the case currently in Yemen.”

Given that the hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, prescribed as obligatory for all Muslims, the call for a boycott indicates the genuine, acerbic concern toward Saudi behavior. Should this trend continue, Saudi Arabia’s claim to being the spiritual home of Islam would be at risk – and it could take an economic hit, too.

Pilgrimage is vital to the Saudi economy and worth $12 billion annually, amounting to 20 percent of non-oil GDP, and is expected to rise to $150 billion by 2022, given the investment in luxury hotels by the Saudi government. Such investment has caused profits to skyrocket, pricing many poorer Muslims out of trips to the kingdom.

The calls for boycotting the hajj are not the first time the religious pilgrimage has been politicized. Saudi Arabia itself has in recent years banned both Qatari and Iranian nationals from partaking due to growing political differences between the states. Saudi officials have also abused the sanctity of the city of Mecca to promote their political ideology.

During one prayer sermon in October last year, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Great Mosque in Mecca, stated:

“The path of reform and modernization in this blessed land … through the care and attention from its young, ambitious, divinely inspired reformer crown prince, continues to blaze forward guided by his vision of innovation and insightful modernism, despite all the failed pressures and threats,”

implying that no Muslim should be questioning the Saudi political elite.

In an effort to flex its political might, and inevitably draw attention away from the Khashoggi killing and the country’s continued leading role in the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia organized an emergency summit in late May in Mecca to put the focus back on Iran. During the summit, which brought together in separate meetings Arab leaders, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Islamic world, Saudis called for support from Arab countries to deal with the Iran crisis by “using all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, harboring global and regional terrorist entities, and threatening international waterways.”

In defiance, and highlighting Saudi Arabia’s waning status as the regional power, Iraq fully opposed the closing statement, which was to denounce Iran, and instead pledged a message of support toward Iran and called on other countries to help stabilize the country. At the summit in Mecca, Iraqi President Barham Salih stated: “Honestly, the security and stability of a neighboring Islamic country is in the interest of Muslim and Arab states,” referring to Iran. Similarly, during the summit, Saudi Arabia failed in getting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – an international organization with headquarters in Jeddah – to isolate and condemn Iran.

As the death toll in Yemen rises, countries around the world are now calling for an economic, religious, and political boycott of Saudi Arabia – not just the banning of arms trade. Riyadh is running out of friends in the West, and, now, its relationships with regional allies are starting to show cracks. Should the Trump administration fail to secure a second term, Saudi Arabia may be left with few international friends and its claim to leadership of the Muslim and Arab world will be severely damaged.

(Video): Mecca or Las Vegas? Why Saudis destroyed Islam’s holiest sites – English Subtitles

The destruction of sites associated with early Islam is an ongoing phenomenon that has occurred mainly in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, particularly around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The demolition has focused on mosques, burial sites, homes and historical locations associated with the Islamic prophet Muhammad and many of the founding personalities of early Islamic history. In Saudi Arabia, many of the demolitions have officially been part of the continued expansion of the Masjid al-Haram at Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and their auxiliary service facilities in order to accommodate the ever-increasing number of people performing the pilgrimage.

Concerns are growing among Muslims as Saudi authorities plan to destroy the birthplace of Prophet Mohammad in the holy city of Mecca. Reports say under the plan, the historic site will be destroyed and replaced with a royal palace for King Abdullah for his visits to Mecca. The work is part of a multibillion-dollar construction project in the holy city which has already resulted in the destruction of hundreds of historic monuments. Saudi Officials claim that the plan aims to expand al-Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque to host more pilgrims. Riyadh is under fire for mass destruction of historic buildings in Mecca. Some reports say up to 95 percent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been destroyed to be replaced with luxury hotels and shopping malls.

 

(Video): How British Empire & America gave rise to Kings of Saudi Arabia – English subtitles

Description:

Senior Arab political analyst and writer Anees Naqqash recounts how the British Empire played a decisive role in the creation and regional rise of the modern state of Saudi Arabia, and how the Americans later provided protection in exchange for control over Saudi oil.

According to Naqqash, who is a prominent feature on Lebanese and Arab media, the Saudi royal family has for decades been used by the British and Americans due to their political and economic expediency.

Naqqash was speaking at an event promoting his new book ‘A look at the course of future transformations to the Gulf’.

Source: Al-Wafa’a Islamic Party (YouTube)

Date: 6 October, 2018

Related Videos

Mecca or Las Vegas? Why Saudis destroyed Islam’s holiest sites – English Subtitles

Source

Related

7 minutes 13:00 to 20:00

Saudi Arabia tries to gain information for a military action in Qatar السعودية تجسّ النبض لعمل عسكري في قطر

Saudi Arabia tries to gain information for a military action in Qatar

أغسطس 8, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The Saudis intended to insult Qatar and to deal with it as a non- sovereign country, when they refused to organize Qatari pilgrimage campaign to Saudi Arabia, and when they decided to open the door individually to the Qataris who want to send an application for performing Hajj through the website, and thus they will have a temporary passport at the airport once they arrive in exchange of handing over their Qatari passports to be received again at departure. This procedure has intelligence intentions by opening the way to recruit the Qatari opposition on the occasion of Hajj, so it is difficult to trace them as traitors by their governments under the pretext of the participation in the religious rites. So those who are recruited by Saudi Arabia will be lost among the lists of pilgrims, in addition, there are not any easy means to know who have met the invitation but only by recruiting informants among their ranks, as long as the traveling must be from a third country since the Qatari passports will not get an entry visa to Saudi Arabia.

The Qataris responded by booking on the website and disconnecting it from inside Qatar, they considered that the Saudi procedure is a political exploitation of the Hajj season, they suggested to send a complaint to the International Court of Justice under this title, but the Saudi response came quickly accompanied with a solidarity of the boycotting countries which participate in the crisis with Qatar. The response considers that the doubtful Qatari position of the Saudi administration of Hajj season is a call to internationalize the religious rites, and thus it is as “an announcement of war” according to the declaration of the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. He added that his government will reserve the right to reply to this position according to what is considered by a declaration of war.

The Saudi position was not a reaction to the Qatari position. In the Qatari responses there was an indication to the accusation of Qatar of being subordinated to Iran in the call to internationalize Hajj season, knowing that the internationalization was not a clear demand in the Qatari response as much as it is a Saudi interpretation of the Qatari legal complaint in front of the International Court which may ignore the cause, or will render a judgment to oblige Saudi Arabia to coordinate with the Qatari government in organizing the participation of its citizens away from the political relations between the two governments, but the linkage to Iran is due to the fact that Iran has called publicly for the internationalization of hajj seasons and managing them towards the permanent administration of the holy sites, it identified a formula which it tried to promote on the Islamic countries regarding this administration. But Riyadh did not issue any comment that considers the Iranian position as a declaration of war, so this means that the accusation of the declaration of war is addressed to Qatar not to the one who is proposing the administration of Hajj season by Saudi into circulation whether totally or partially.

The Saudis feel with agony whenever they remember that the crisis with Qatar lasts more than the expectation, and whenever they notice that the international and the regional situations are surrounding the crisis through a stable static, while they feel that Doha is comforted to its position in the light of the American position, which its ceiling is a media support of the Saudi position and a real dealing with how to employ the crisis in favor of US gains with each of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand there were European and Russian positions that stick not to allow the escalation of the crisis on one hand, and the Saudi control on Qatar on the other hand in the light of the Turkish-Iranian positions that support Qatar implicitly

Saudi Arabia tries to gain information under a religious pretext for the escalation militarily through the vocabulary of ” a declaration of war” in order to impose new dynamism for the crisis, whether through the escalation of war,  so this opens a negotiation on a hot skate that achieves some gains and justifies the end of the crisis from a superior Saudi position or through a military process that is desired by the Saudis from the first day, if they ensure that the process will not turn into a confrontation with Turkey or Iran on one hand, and if they ensure the quickness of the operational success. But the two matters are questionable, so trying to gain information is not the first shot in the war.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

السعودية تجسّ النبض لعمل عسكري في قطر

ناصر قنديل

يوليو 31, 2017

– تقصّد السعوديون إهانة قطر ومعاملتها كدولة فاقدة للسيادة عندما رفضوا تنظيم بعثة حجّ قطرية إلى السعودية، وقرّروا فتح الباب فردياً للقطريين الراغبين بالحجّ للتقدّم بطلباتهم عبر موقع إلكتروني والحصول على جواز سفر مؤقت على المطار حين وصولهم مقابل تسليم جوازاتهم القطرية لاستردادها في طريق العودة، ويحمل التدبير في ما يحمل نيات استخبارية بفتح المجال لتجنيد المعارضين القطريين بمناسبة موسم الحج، فيصعب تقفي أثرهم كعملاء من قبل حكومتهم، لأنّ الذريعة هي المشاركة في شعائر دينية، والمجنّدين مع السعودية يضيعون بين لوائح الحجاج. هذا إضافة لعدم توفر وسائل سهلة لمعرفة مَن هم الذين استجابوا للدعوة إلا عن طريق دسّ مخبرين بين صفوفهم، طالما السفر يجب أن يتمّ من بلد ثالث والجوازات القطرية لن تحصُل على سمة دخول للسعودية.

– ردّ القطريون بالحجز على الموقع وقطع التواصل معه من داخل قطر، واعتبروا الإجراء السعودي استغلالاً سياسياً لإدارة موسم الحج، ولوّحت بالتوجه لمحكمة العدل الدولية بشكوى على السعودية تحت هذا العنوان ليأتي الردّ السعودي سريعاً مصحوباً بتضامن دول المقاطعة المشاركة في الأزمة مع قطر. والردّ يعتبر الموقف القطري المشكك في الإدارة السعودية لموسم الحج دعوة لتدويل الشعائر الدينية، وبالتالي هو بمثابة «إعلان حرب»، وفقاً لتصريح وزير الخارجية السعودي عادل الجبير، مضيفاً أنّ حكومته ستحتفظ بحق الردّ على هذا الموقف بما يتناسب مع اعتباره إعلان حرب.

– الموقف السعودي ليس رداً على الموقف القطري، ولا بحجمه أصلاً، وقد ورد في الردود السعودية اتهام لقطر بالتبعية لإيران في الدعوة لتدويل موسم الحجّ، علماً أنّ التدويل ليس مطلباً واضحاً في الردّ القطري بقدر ما هو تأويل سعودي للتلويح القطري بالشكوى القانونية أمام محكمة دولية قد تردّ القضية، أو تُصدر حكماً بإلزام السعودية بالتنسيق مع الحكومة القطرية بأحسن حال في تنظيم مشاركة مواطنيها بمعزل عن العلاقات السياسية بين الحكومتين، لكن الربط بإيران يستحضر حقيقة أنّ إيران دعت علناً لتدويل مواسم الحج وإدارتها وصولاً للإدارة الدائمة للأماكن المقدسة، وحدّدت صيغة حاولت تسويقها لدى الدول الإسلامية لهذه الإدارة، ولم يخرج عن الرياض تعليق يعتبر الموقف الإيراني إعلان حرب، ما يعني أنّ الاتهام بإعلان حرب موجّه لقطر وليس لكلّ من يذهب تلميحاً أو تصريحاً، كلياً أو جزئياً لطرح إدارة السعودية لموسم الحج في التداول.

– يشعر السعوديون بالضيق كلما تذكّروا أنّ الأزمة مع قطر تطول أكثر مما توقعوا، وكلما انتبهوا إلى أنّ الوضعين الدولي والإقليمي يحيطان الأزمة بستاتيكو لا يتيح تحريكها إلى الأمام. وهم يستشعرون أنّ الدوحة مرتاحة لوضعها في ظلّ موقف أميركي سقفه تأييد إعلامي للموقف السعودي وتعامل واقعي مع كيفية توظيف الأزمة لمكاسب أميركية من كلّ من قطر والسعودية، وفي المقابل مواقف أوروبية وروسية متمسّكة بعدم السماح بتصعيد الأزمة من جهة، وبسيطرة السعودية على قطر من جهة أخرى، في ظلّ موقفين تركي وإيراني داعمين ضمناً لقطر.

– تجسّ السعودية النبض بذريعة دينية لفرصة تصعيد تريده عسكرياً عبر مفردة «إعلان حرب» لفرض دينامية جديدة للأزمة، سواء عبر تصعيد يلوّح بالحرب فيفتح تفاوضاً على نار حامية يحقق سقفاً من المكاسب يبرّر إنهاء الأزمة، من موقع سعودي متفوّق، أو يأخذ الأمور إلى عملية عسكرية يرغبها السعوديون من اليوم الأول، إذا ضمنوا عدم تحوّل العملية إلى مواجهة مع تركيا أو إيران، من جهة، وضمنوا سرعة النجاح العملياتي من جهة أخرى، والأمران مشكوك فيهما، ولهذا جسّ النبض ليس طلقة أولى في الحرب.

(Visited 163 times, 163 visits today)
Related Videos

The Debate – Israel-Saudi ties

 

Date: 24.7.2016

The entangled webs we weave perhaps could be a very appropriate phrase regarding the relationship between the Saudis and the Israelis. On the one hand the Saudis like to project themselves as the keeper of the holy places, referring to Mecca and Medina which include some of Islam’s holiest sites. On the other hand the Saudis have done everything to propagate a negative image of Islam by supporting extremists and terrorists. They have not been productive in helping the Palestinians be free from Israeli occupation, which has been taking place for more than 7 decades. Israel is considered the main enemy of freedom loving people in the region and of Muslims, so why is it that increasingly the Saudi regime has more in common with its Tel Aviv counterparts than those in the region resisting the occupation of Palestine?

Ibrahim Mousawi
Political Analyst

Richard Millet
Journalist and Political Commentator

Related Videos

 Related Articles

Death Toll of Hajj Tragedy Tops 2200: New Figures

The death toll from last month’s hajj stampede has topped 2,200, according to tallies given by foreign officials, making it by far the deadliest disaster in the pilgrimage’s history.

Hajj stampedeSaudi Arabia has yet to provide an updated death toll after saying 769 people died in the tragedy near Mecca, home of Islam’s holiest sites.

But figures given by more than 30 governments around the world show that at least 2,223 foreign pilgrims died, according to an AFP tally.

Saudi authorities have not given a toll for any deaths among their own nationals.

The loss of life in the September 24 disaster far exceeds the 1,426 pilgrims who died in the hajj’s worst previous incident — a tunnel stampede in July 1990.

Here is a breakdown of the dead from foreign governments:

– Iran: 464 dead

– Mali 282

– Nigeria: 199 dead

– Egypt: 182 dead

– Bangladesh: 137

– Indonesia: 129 dead

– India: 116 dead

– Pakistan: 89 dead

– Cameroon: 76 dead

– Niger: 72 dead

– Senegal: 62 dead

– Ethiopia: 53 dead

– Chad: 52 dead

– Ivory Coast: 52 dead

– Benin: 52 dead

– Morocco: 36 dead

– Sudan: 30 dead

– Algeria: 28 dead

– Burkina Faso: 22 dead

– Tanzania: 22 dead

– Ghana: 17 dead

– Libya: 10 dead

– Somalia: 8 dead

– Kenya: 8 dead

– Tunisia: 7 dead

– Mauritius: 5 dead

– China: 4 dead

– Afghanistan: 3 dead

– Burundi: 1 dead

– Iraq: 1 dead

– Jordan: 1 dead

– Netherlands: 1 dead

– Oman: 1 dead

– Malaysia: 1 dead

 

Source: AFP

23-10-2015 – 00:34 Last updated 23-10-2015 – 00:34


Related Video

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

%d bloggers like this: