Tag Archives saudi

The Mecca Pilgrims Deaths. Yet another stampede

The Mecca Pilgrims Deaths. Yet another stampede

A lot has been written and debated about the tragic and inexcusable events in Mecca which has claimed close to one thousand souls with many more injured. We don’t know what the final tally is, because currently the Saudi official sources have stopped reporting the numbers. Hajj, of course is one of the five pillars of Islam and is demanded of every Muslim to perform once in their lifetime if they are capable to do so.

Saudi emergency personnel stand near bodies of Hajj pilgrims at the site where at least 717 were killed and hundreds wounded in a stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia on September 24, 2015. The stampede, the second deadly accident to strike the pilgrims this year, broke out during the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual, the Saudi civil defence service said. AFP PHOTO / STR / Getty Images

The reactions to the most recent Mecca pilgrims deaths I’ve come across generally are either apologists trying to shift the blame to the pilgrims themselves, their nationality – thus being completely racist – as well as blaming their countries of origin whom they say are responsible for educating their citizens before they embark on the pilgrimage; through to those who squarely blame the Saudi regime labelling it as incompetent and fatalistic and should never be allowed to run this holy event in the Muslim calendar.

mecca-deaths-bbc-historyThe number of tragedies in recent history certainly gives the latter thoughts some credibility as the cycle of deaths and more importantly their cause isn’t stopping giving rise to the fact that the Saudis aren’t learning from experiences, or if they are, they’re not adapting their ways to ensure that more tragedies won’t occur in the future.

Another opinion goes further and touches upon the Hajj itself is a business and a major source of revenue for Saudi and almost state that the pilgrims themselves and the event itself is a side consideration. There is no doubt that these opinions are harsh and I can understand the anger surrounding the issue. People’s lives are precious, and if they seem to have gone in vain, the pain is even harder to come to terms with.

“Munich’s Octoberfest is an event attended by seven million drunks annually and we didn’t hear of any deaths due to stampedes although all are drunk”

There are other comparisons. People ask, how is it that Octoberfest in Munich attracts seven million drunks and we never hear of stampedes and deaths? There are other large gatherings around the world that do not suffer such a fate either. According to ARC (pdf), 30
pilgrims attend
, 20 million pilgrims in Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Karbala in Iraq welcomes 10 million worshippers annually for the Arba’een Commemoration and the event passes generally peacefully and without much regular incidents save for some terrorist attacks and even those have been mitigated, yet in Mecca with just two million, tragedies are the norm, and so is blaming the pilgrims rather than the system.

A safe and secure pilgrimage is a must and it’s high time that it becomes a reality. This holy Muslim right has been going on for over 1,400 years, one would think that a system to safely run it would have been absolutely perfected by now. Yet the evident truth is that it hasn’t. As Saudi Arabia has taken it upon itself to be the custodian of the two holy mosques and the Hajj, it is incumbent upon them to ensure that this event is regularised as clock-work and be safe for everyone who wants to perform it. It is only through an acceptance of accountability, criticism – regardless of how harsh it may seem – and clear definitions of responsibilities can these issues be resolved for the short as well as the long term. It will also help to refuse to ascribe these issues to fate in any way, but work though them with logic and a transparent evaluation of the facts to clearly identify and repair what has gone wrong.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who perished.


Ahhh, so romantic!

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Or at least it would have been somewhere other than in our big neighbour to our east…

Saudi groom slapped by mother on wedding night
The groom’s mother became so upset that she hit and insulted him

A Saudi groom was slapped by his mother on his wedding night when he tried , in a romantic Cinderella-inspired touch, to put a shoe on his bride’s foot.

“The shocked mother was so infuriated by the sight of her son helping the bride wear her shoe that she slapped him amid the laughter of the women guests,” Okaz daily reported on Thursday.

“The groom had reportedly agreed with his bride that she walks into the reception hall wearing only one shoe and that her sister would carry the second shoe. The plan was that he would later take the shoe and put it on the bride’s foot in front of the guests. His family was not told about the perceived romantic gesture,” the newspaper said.

However, the groom’s mother became so upset that she hit and insulted him on the grounds that he did not behave as “a genuine traditional oriental man.”

The groom eventually left the reception hall in Tabuk in north-western Saudi Arabia and took his bride to the airport to fly to Malaysia for their honeymoon, the paper said.
In a separate incident in the same city, angry wedding guests left the reception hall after the families of the bride and groom screened a short film “that failed to respect privacy.”

According to Okaz, the short clip highlighted the different stages of the lives of both the bride and the groom, from their early years throughout school and adolescence, and ended with the couple hugging and exchanging a kiss.

However, some guests were shocked, charging that the clip was not acceptable and that it was inspired by movies screened on private television channels.

By Habib Toumi, Bahrain Bureau Chief Published: 17:22 August 5, 2010


And let THAT be a lesson.

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Here ye! Hear ye!

You do bad bad stuff in Saudi and you’re a foreigner, you get your ‘ead chopped off. But if you don’t believe that, then, well, y’know, the very contemporary authorities in the other Magic Kingdom have devised quite a novel approach to deter those who contemplate jiggy-jiggying with it and do some “bad stuff” as determined by their impartial and equitable and divine and – well – just Saudi justice system. Like this:

Saudi Arabia has put the bodies of four Sri Lankans beheaded in Riyadh on display in public in an effort to deter a rising crime wave by foreigners.

crucifiedbacklitSee how creative that is? I am absolutely convinced that as Saudi – home of Islam’s two holiest sites – have now set a precedent for the rest of the Muslim Umma to follow, especially as this new deterrent is approved, condoned and sanctified by their highest authorities; therefore, I warrant that crucifixion after the Shari’a compliant beheading shall be the new norm. I expect that ardent followers of this generous interpretation of our religion, especially those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other “Key US Strategic Allies” shall perfect this new form of deterrent in order to reduce crime.

Believe me that won’t take too long. Expect new announcements and pictures of this very contemporary form of deterrent to appear on your news sources very soon. And it’s about time too, because:

“There is a pressing need to review many of the negative practices of foreigners in the kingdom,” al-Riyadh quoted Abdel-Rahman al-Luweiheq, who teaches at the Imam bin Saud University, as saying.

“Foreigners in the kingdom are implementing criminal plans made abroad,” he said, referring to mafia-like outfits. [source]

Which is a contention oft repeated by our very own lawmakers. Those illustrious doyens of faith, protectors of our morals and upholders of Islam and protectors of our culture and traditions against the unwashed uncouth heathen hordes who do not know their place within our pure race. Without our preeminent lawmakers and their symbiotic clerics, our divine ascendancy to Heaven must surely be interrupted if not derailed completely. After all, we can never know what is best for us nor can we make our own minds up as to what is right and what is wrong.

So ye foreigners be warned! Thou shalt not sully our purity! Thou shalt not dare think yourselves equal to us, the chosen people of Allah! Thou shall get your just deserts, as determined by our most learned and most just – in a contemporary form, of course, lest the world think of us as heinous barbarians.

But we don’t give a damn about what the world thinks of us anyway. We know better.

[edit: link to today’s story: Saudi beheads and crucifies murder convict#2]


Blinkered Horizons

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The contrast of the romantic drippings of the apparently hugely popular dubbed Turkish soap Gümüs and the criminal bombings in that country yesterday as well as those in Iraq and India which left over 100 dead and many more injured, cannot be brought more into focus than the exclusive and vociferous condemnation of the television serial by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia – its highest religious authority:

Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities
Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities

“It is not permitted to look at these serials or watch them. They contain so much evil; they destroy people’s ethics and are against our values,” said the mufti during the closing ceremony of a forum, which took place in Riyadh on Friday. He added that these “malicious” Turkish soap operas corrupt individuals and spread vice in society.

Yet we heard not even a shy beep of objection by the same respected gentleman against the cowardly and criminal bombing acts perpetrated by his own co-religionists against other human beings. To him and his ilk, it seems that a little romance is much more devastating than bombs which rip people to shreds.

“Any TV station that airs them is against God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). These are serials of immorality. They are prepared by people who are specialists in crime and error, people who invite men and women to the devil.” – ed: my emphasis

Someone should remind the gentleman to reset his priorities, don’t you think? While he would probably not hesitate an instant to call those perpetrators of terror across the world as “martyrs” in the full knowledge of their heinous crimes simply because they call themselves Muslims and belong to his clique, he wantonly discards a whole television station and its millions of viewers from God’s mercy.

I wonder if someone reminded the gentleman of the fact that the owners of said offending station are actually his employers, would he change his mind and be the first to plaster himself in front of his own silver screen in anticipation of more syrupy words of love from the effervescent Mohanned imparted to the luscious Noor?


Welcome home Fouad!

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Saudi blogger Fouad Al-FarhanSaudi Jeans reports that Fouad Al-Farhan has been released from custody after a 137 days incarceration, held without any charges.

We don’t know the details of his release and what he had to give up or sign for the authorities to finally let him go, I suspect we will hear his stories quite soon – I hope.

In any case, I am very happy indeed for his release.

Welcome home Fouad!


Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan arrested

Saudi blogger Fouad Al-FarhanFouad Al-Farhan is one of a very few Saudi bloggers who chooses to blog under their own name, publishes his picture and challenges the establishment with utter bravery has been arrested in Saudi.

This is not Fouad’s first altercation with the authorities there. His blog has been banned in Saudi in February 2007. He resumed writing in July 2007 against almost continuous harassment. It was reported that he has been led from his office in Jeddah without any reason given.

If the reason for his arrest is due to his writing, then this is obviously a gross violation of an individual’s basic human right to freedom of expression. I call on the Saudi authorities to respect their role in the world and immediately release Fouad Al-Farhan and call on them to guarantee his safety throughout his detention.

Hang in there Fouad, you have a lot of friends with you. I applaud your determination to speak your mind for the better of our community.


No passports needed to visit Saudi

Bahraini ID Card

Finally, after 25 years or so of establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council, citizens of both Bahrain and Saudi will soon be able to visit each other’s country by just using their identity card rather than a passport. This will take effect in 30 days due to an agreement signed at the Interior Ministers’s meeting in Riyadh yesterday.

Thanks! That should make things a bit easier. You wouldn’t believe the number of times that I found out that I didn’t have my passport with me when I reached the border point on the causeway! Soon, I won’t have to worry about that.

One thing they could do is unify the visas throughout the Gulf so that residents in one country can easily go to another without having to go through the onerous steps of getting a recurrent visa from one country or another. For instance, we go through hell (and a lot of begging) to get our engineer a visa so he can visit our customers in Saudi.

Ah well, one step at a time I guess. As allowing citizens to travel to each other’s country has taken 26 years to achieve, to get residents to do so will probably take oooh, another 260 years. Not bad.

Incidentally, did you know that there is a page listing the lost and found ID cards on the Ministry of Interior’s website? Quite nifty isn’t it!


Congrats Iraq!

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Iraq’s captain Younis Mahmood header clinched the Asian Cup championship to a well-deserving Iraq!

The final (which I did not watch but just as happy for the result) between two Arab giants Saudi and Iraq must have been a nail-biter, but as we are all rooting for some good news for Iraq and Iraqis I am very happy for their win which undoubtedly will unite a chaotic country and people. I just hope that the terrorists will at least give Iraqis some respite to celebrate this victory, but knowing the bastards, their motive is anything but unity. I pray that they will be overcome and give Iraq back her soul.

Hard luck to our Saudi neighbours too. They undoubtedly have played a good match too.

The Iraqi team celebrating
I know this picture looks very gay, but there is a better one after the break! 😆


Lovey Dovey and the world is Hokey Pokey

come here my dear boy…

“Come here my dear boy…” King Abdulla greeted his Iranian neighbour, “and let us chat a little about this region and religion.”

Ahmadinejad, being in a huff with everyone but God at the moment, and even that is questionable, jumped at the opportunity. A statesman who has just come back from Sudan (Sudan?) into Saudi to shore up his support for his train without breaks, and that train being just 100 kilometers away from the shores of the great kingdom to our west rather worryies our big neighbour. That of course and that little thing of running a bilateral proxy war in a country sandwiched between the two great nations gives the two great leaders a lot to chat about.

It is just as well that Ahmadinejad is staying over for a couple of days. He should utilise the time to perform Umrah, as he is close to it and he probably would find it difficult not only to fit it in his busy rhetorical schedule, but getting a visa is a bit iffy at the moment, they tell me. Performing a religious duty after all is much more important than stopping bloodshed or even avoiding turning us all into radioactive subjects.

So off they went, the two great leaders, and discussed sectarianism:

Gulf News Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to fight the spread of sectarian strife that threatens to spill over from their neighbour Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister said.

I guess the former will now instruct the Imam University to be closed and subject all its graduates to deep psychoanalysis to get them to grudgingly accept that Shi’as are in fact non-heretics – let alone being Muslim (when that happens I’m going to establish an orthodontic clinic in Riyadh to cater for all the shattered teeth due to furious clenching) while the latter finally accepted that he is going to insist on changing his country’s constitution to turn it into a “real” democracy by abolishing the supreme clerical council and allow people to stand for elections without them being first vetted by said council.

They also accepted that they will stop sending their Heavenly-glory-seekers to Iraq and leave that country alone to gets its ducks in order without their direct or indirect interference, at least that’s what I understood from the official Iranian News Agency:

Speaking in a meeting with the Saudi King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh on Sunday, Ahmadinejad stressed numerable and common assignments and responsibilities of Iran and Saudi Arabia, as two big and powerful Islamic nations, in the world of Islam, the region and the Middle-East, a statement released by the Presidential Press Office said.


And I thought that our own BNA was bad!

So why the change of heart now? Is Ahmadinejad finally sick of his own pompous rhetoric? Is he really looking for solutions? Is he and his country really willing to enter into genuine cooperation to end strife in this turbulent part of the world? Or is he just feeling cornered and wants a way out?

Whatever it is, I’ve lived through 5 major wars in my lifetime, at a rate of one every five years and do not wish to go through yet another one, especially if the prospect of the next one being nuclear, especially one managed and designed by ex-Chernobyl brainiacs.

I hope that the two gentlemen holding hands would translate their conclusions to a real will to salvage tenuous relationships for the sake of not only their people, but the entire region.

I somehow will refrain from holding my breath.