Demolish?!

If someone told me this few days ago, I would have thought it was a sick joke. But then I watched the disturbing video and heard it from the horse’s mouth:

Shiekh (?) Yousuf al-Ahmad from Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh has shamelessly called for demolishing of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and rebuilding it in a way that prevents women from mingling with men during tawaf and prayers.

Al-Ahmad argues that in the past nobody had the means to achieve that but now it can easily be done. The Grand Mosque can be completely demolished, he said, and then rebuilt all over again. Al-Ahmad suggests the Grand Mosque can have 10, 20, or even 30 floors, dedicating some of them exclusively to women.

I have nothing to say, really. I think the absurdity of this whole thing speaks for itself. How did we get here? God, have mercy on us.

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Kill Me Now

For someone who would probably enjoy the lifestyle of a caveman, Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak has an impressive ability to occasionally make news headlines with his ridiculous, albeit dangerous, fatwas. His latest fatwa called for opponents of the kingdom’s strict segregation of men and women to be put to death if they refuse to abandon their ideas.

Some people think the best way to deal with this fatwa is to simply ignore it, because the more media attention it gets the more weight it will carry. I disagree. It might be true that al-Barrak is an old man who is still living in the past, but failing to address his fatwa might lead to serious consequences. This guy has a loyal following who admire him and regard his opinions highly.

What if one of his enthusiastic fans decided to act upon this fatwa and killed somebody? What if someone from those who spoke in favor of mixing like justice minister Shaikh Mohammed al-Eisa, Shaikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi, or Shaikh Ahmed Bin Baz got killed over this?

That is unlikely to happen, but it remains a possibility nevertheless. As Ebtihal Mubarak tweeted earlier today, “there is a huge number of unemployed men who are agitated, and it’s easy to rally them using the argument that the government is focusing on women and mixing of genders while ignoring them.”

I think all those concerned should speak out against this fatwa and denounce al-Barrak. The official religious establishment, namely the Council of Senior Ulema, should take a stand and make a statement here. But based on their recent history with the mixing at KAUST drama, I’m pretty sure they won’t say a single word about this.

I hate to repeat myself, but here is what I said two years ago when al-Barrak released another one of his insane fatwas:

I can imagine that neither the government nor the official religious establishment would speak out on this issue, but if they fail to address this properly then they should stop whining about extremism and how terrorists are simply a “misguided group.” It is this kind of dangerous messages that feed extremism and donate fuel to terrorists to continue their lethal destructive acts. Keeping silent and later blaming “external influences” for what happens here will be a hard sell…

The Alternatives

If you think SaudiFlager is not such a bad idea, brace yourself for this: NaqaTube, a website from Saudi Arabia that aims to offer a clean alternative to YouTube, preventing the youth from watching profane or sexually explicit video clips online.

Abu Ibraheem, one of the moderators of the website who did not wish to reveal his real name, told Arab News that clips on NaqaTube are religiously safe and often edited prior to being uploaded. The site also censors clips that are against the government, individuals and scholars, or which mock people in general. Abu Ibraheem added that women’s images are totally forbidden, along with music.

Okay, stop laughing. Let’s get serious. Let’s forget that YouTube’s TOS clearly prohibit pornography or sexually explicit content, videos showing bad stuff like animal abuse, drug abuse, under-age drinking and smoking, or bomb making, and graphic or gratuitous violence. Let’s forget the question of whether women’s images and music are halal or haram.

This is not the first attempt by religious people to make clean alternatives of popular internet offerings. Before NaqaTube there was GodTube, JewTube, and IslamicTube. Heck, a Saudi company have been promoting a whole clean internet under the name Gnet for years.

Although I never thought that building Arabic/Islamic alternatives to popular internet services is exactly a good idea, I find myself today not minding it very much. More choices to the people is not a bad thing, I guess. But I still wonder about the prospects of these projects, especially after the recent acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo!. Is this a sustainable business model? Can these alternatives survive the competition by focusing on such specific niches?

Churches in Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow people of religions other than Islam to practice their faiths publicly here, the land of the Kingdom could be the home of one of the oldest churches in the region.

The Assyrian International News Agency website recently published some photos of what they called the Jubail Church, of which its ruins were accidentally unearthed in the 1980’s by a group of people attempting to dig their vehicle out of the sand. The website claims that the government has acknowledged the existence of this church but will not issue permits to visit it.

My friend Bandar Raffah has previously written about the Jeddah Church and took some photos of the building, which unlike the one in Jubail remains unfenced. He was also able to get an official confirmation that it is indeed a church although no information are available on its history.

Seriously?!

This was the first thing I saw when I entered my college building this morning:

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Few hours later, someone decided to give them a piece of his mind:

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P.S. I’m not in the mood to translate but if you can read this and want to volunteer to translate, please do in the comments.

UPDATE: I guess someone didn’t like what the first someone did:

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