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Adam in London

It is insane to declare a nation incapable of reform because it is Muslim. Look at Morrocco, look at Kuwait, look at Turkey, look at Indonesia, look at Malaysia, look at Bangladesh. They've all managed reform.

David Lindsay

The print and broadcast media seem to be in uproar at the arrival of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on these shores. Don't we know what the House of Saud is like? Indeed we do. And supporters of the cadet House of Bush are in no position to comment. Yes, Johann Hari, that includes you: you supported the invasion of Iraq.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is one of neoconservatism's many past and present sites of alliance with militant Islam, with the others including 1980s Afghanistan, 1990s Bosnia, and today's Turkey, Pakistan, Kosovo and Chechnya.

In Bosnia and Kosovo, that is also an alliance with the linear continuations of Nazism, just as it is in Flanders, in Denmark, and in support for the continuation of the Israeli Law of Return, which is now flooding Israel with Russian Nazis.

atheling

What reform in Morocco? Kuwait?

Do women have equal rights there, Adam? Can women choose who they marry? Can Muslim apostates live in peace there?

Give me a break. What's "insane" is anyone who thinks Islam is a "religion of peace". It was founded by a desert brigand pedophile who spread his cult by the sword. For 14 centuries we have had nothing but violence from this doppelganger of Christianity and Judaism.

People who think Islam is a "good" religion are either appallingly ignorant of it or are pseudo fascist wannabees.

Adam in London

Not heard of the Mudawana in Morocco then? Not heard of Kuwait giving women the vote?

Perhaps your vile little ramblings would have more impact if you knew what you were talking about.

PS: Noticed you neglected to mention Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh

Leondavis3

The May 15th Prophecy has accurately predicted the situation in Middle East and with the U.S. and UK.

The May 15th Prophecy has been the only source that have given detail with 100% accuracy of what is really happening in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the greater Middle East

You should do a Goggle search of the May 15th Prophecy or go to
http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/

Simon Newman

maduka:
"Will 'Little England' be able to stand up to France and Germany when the inevitable occurs."

I think England should be able to repel an invasion by Franco-German forces or withstand Franco-German economic sanctions, yes.

Andy

Leon

"The May 15th Prophecy has accurately predicted the situation in Middle East and with the U.S. and UK.

The May 15th Prophecy has been the only source that have given detail with 100% accuracy of what is really happening in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the greater Middle East

You should do a Goggle search of the May 15th Prophecy or go to
http://lastdaywatchers.blogspot.com/ "

Leon, have you actually sat down and READ any of this? You'd soon realize what a load of rubbish it really is.

Anybody that thinks the road to salvation is in some obscure anti-American/Israel/UK web site is at best an asshole, at worst a fanatic.

atheling

Adam in London:

Then why are you in London?

If Malaysia, Indonesia, et al... are so wonderful, then why is that no one is migrating there? Indeed, I have seen large numbers of apostate Muslims leave the those countries because they are persecuted there.

And don't forget Thailand... the "restive South" (i.e. Muslim dominated), where Muslims are killing the Buddhists on a daily basis.

I wonder what is your motive in defending countries where it's quite apparent that they have appalling human rights records, not to mention the violence and oppression of women, Christians, Jews, gays, etc...?

IRJMilne

I wrote a long post in disagreement with the editor's post whilst this topic had yet to receive any comments, but thought better of it.

But I would like to ask the editor what he actually wants our policy towards Saudi Arabia to be. We simply cannot cut all diplomatic ties with all countries whose internal affairs we disapprove of. I disaprove of countries with "gay marriage" legislation, I am a monarchist and therefore disapprove of republics; the French waste our money on the CAP; Putin kills people on our soil.

Some countries (like the military tyranny in Burma, or the economic horror-story of Mugabe's Zimbabwe, or, indeed, the Kurd-gassing regime of the late Saddam Hussein) step so far beyond the pale that, no matter what other considerations, it is not possible to hold diplomatic relations with them. Saudi Arabia is not one of these, so far as I am aware, because it is of more strategic importance than, say, Zimbabwe or Burma, and its abuses are less appaling.

I certainly don't see why we should be hostile to a country on the basis that it doesn't allow women to drive. We might as well be hostile to a country on the basis of its gay marriage legislation. It is an internal cultural affair. If the editor wishes to make an argument for an anti-Saudi policy, he should stick to the more solid arguments available to him.

I am not certain whether Saudi Arabia is interfering in Iraq over its border; perhaps the possibility that it might is a consideration in being chummy with the Saudis. In any case, I am not convinced by the editors post. I have very little regard for the Independent and for Vincent Cable, so I will wait until John Redwood calls for sanctions on Saudi Arabia, and for IDS to hold a protest on the green-bedecked mall before I will head protestations which are all very well but don't suggest a practical policy and ignore all considerations other than the internal policies of Saudi Arabia and its links to terrorism.

Regarding its terrorism links, I still fail to see how cutting contact with the country will help us. If we don't buy their oil, the French certainly will (if they can help Saddam obtain nuclear weapons, they can certainly buy Saudi oil).

Can we afford to make yet another enemy in the Middle East? Undoubtedly the "failing to do enough on terrorism" line is a bold and clever smokescreen. I would not choose to live in Saudi Arabia of choice, but surely you have to pick your fights? In PR terms, quite importantly it helps to repudiate the catcalls that the West is launching a war on Islam, catcalls which themselves help fuel terrorism (and have more to do with "radicalisation" than the spurious BBC claim of links to the Indian Mutiny).

I fear, in conclusion, that the above article drawing upon a Liberal Democrat and the most Lib-Dem of newspapers, suffers from the common Lib-Dem flaw of being heavy on moralizing and weak on practical suggestions. The editor's stance on Iranian nuclear physics students makes sense, but I cannot work out what he wants the government to do here.

I feel moved, though, to append that the "excellent presentation by young people from both countries saying how they are working together to get a better understanding of each other's culture" referred to earlier does indeed sound very much like the sort of thing that we got in the USSR days, and I find it about as convincing as Peter Hain on immigration figures.

atheling

"I certainly don't see why we should be hostile to a country on the basis that it doesn't allow women to drive."

Do you actually believe that to be the most egregious deficiency in Saudi Arabia? Did you read the litany of abuses that women endure there?

"We might as well be hostile to a country on the basis of its gay marriage legislation."

Non sequitor. Beating women for being "inferior" and because your religion tells you to do so is hardly the same as permitting two gay people to marry (which I oppose, btw).

"It is an internal cultural affair."

So was suttee, but in the days when the British people had backbone and a real sense of right and wrong, they put an end to that disgusting practice India.

IRJMilne, your moral equivalency is appalling. Secondly, I assume you're a man, so why should you care about the oppression of women, right?

Again, I repeat. We need to get off the foreign oil dependency in order to stop funding terrorism and the spread of Wahhabism.

Here's some info on our "friends" the Saudis:

Stuart Levey, the U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, who one day after the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, declared that Saudi Arabia had failed to prosecute terrorism financiers.

Levey voiced frustration that not a single terrorist supporter identified by Washington had been prosecuted by the Saudis.

“If I could snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” a frustrated Levey told the press. “When the evidence is clear that these individuals have funded terror organizations . . . then that should be prosecuted and treated as real terrorism because it is.”

Levey leads an office which marshals the Treasury Department's policy, enforcement, regulatory and intelligence functions to sever the lines of financial support to international terrorists, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, narcotics traffickers, and other threats to our national security. Yet, the United States blithely ignored the very person with the best information whose job is to help stop terrorism and safeguard our country.

Instead, we are providing U.S. aid to the world’s top oil-producing country which is also coincidentally the main financial and ideological sponsor of Wahhabism or Islamic extremism. This austere form of Islam insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran and spreads the belief that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. In effect, we are funding our enemies. Even more outrageous, we are funding wealthy enemies: a resource-rich country that is the largest source of financing for Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists who have murdered hundreds of Americans and Israelis.

The extent of Saudia Arabia’s wealth frequently makes headlines. Recently, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, sold a 5% share of the Kingdom Holding Company, one of the largest investment companies in the world, for more than two and a half times its initial public offering valuation. As a member of the Saudi royal family, Al-Walid holds assets estimated at $20.3 billion and is deemed by Forbes Magazine as the 13th wealthiest person in the world. The prince’s major holdings include Citibank, AOL, Apple, Inc., Worldcom, Motorola, News Corp, Planet Hollywood, and numerous other companies. He alone is the largest foreign investor in New York and his extensive real estate holdings including upscale hotel chains and resorts. In July of 2005, Talal donated $20 million to the Louvre in Paris, the largest donation ever received by the museum, for the construction of a wing to house Islamic art.

In recent years, Talal has used his financial clout to influence American foreign policy, shape media portrayals and promote Islamist ideology. Following the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, Al-Walid offered a $10 million donation to New York City toward relief efforts and suggested that the U.S. should reexamine its allegedly pro-Israel policies in the Middle East as the root cause of the attacks. The donation was turned down.

Prince Talal gave $500,000 to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an un-indicted co-conspirator in the funding of Hamas, for distribution to American public libraries of books that sanitize Islam and terrorist organization activities. One book declares that terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah were placed on the U.S. government’s terrorist list, not because of their well-documented terrorist operations, but because of the pro-Israel bias of American leaders.

During the 2005 Muslim riots in France, Prince Talal, the fifth largest shareholder of the parent company of Fox News, called network chief Rupert Murdoch and demanded that a screen banner identifying the unrest as “Muslim riots” be changed to “civil riots.” The Prince maintained that the U.S. media is too pro-Israel and he encouraged the Arab world and media to do more to counter this tendency.

Further, Prince Talal has tried to influence U.S. Middle East policy by donating $20 million each to Harvard University and Georgetown University, among the largest university donations in history, to finance Islamic studies and create a pro-Islamic environment among future and current policy leaders. From a country that ironically routinely punishes practitioners of Christianity, he declared that his primary reason for bestowing the gifts was the promotion of “Muslim-Christian” understanding.

Of grave concern is another donation by the Prince to the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada for $27 million given in 2002. Although committee leadership attempted to portray the gift as assistance for Arab-Palestinian families resisting the “occupation,” documents captured by the Israel Defense Forces indicated that the funds were payoffs for suicide bombings used as enticements to murder by Hamas. A Saudi-government cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Buraik, stated to television audiences viewing the 2002 fundraising telethon, “I am against America until this life ends…She is the root of all evils and wickedness on Earth…” He further urged listeners to pillage the Jews, enslave their women and wage all-out jihad.

The travesty of U.S. funding for a wealthy terrorist-sponsoring nation is further demonstrated by a 2005 study, “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques” by Freedom House, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to advance the worldwide expansion of political and economic freedom. Freedom House researchers found that over 80% of U.S. mosques had been radicalized by Saudi-appointed, Wahhabist imams and ideology. These Saudi-trained clerics, the ideological arm of the royal family, advocate the rejection of Christianity and Judaism, the full application of the Sharia or Islamic law in America, hatred of non-believers, renunciation of allegiance to America and the waging of jihad by all Muslims against infidels.

It is indeed troubling that U.S. leaders overlook the role that the Saudi government plays in supporting terrorism worldwide and the spreading of extremist ideology within America. It is the height of irony that while Saudia Arabia bans churches and arrests Christians praying in private homes, it is also freely funding a fifth column inside America in the form of “religious” instruction. For President Bush to praise Saudi Arabia as an “anti-terrorism” ally while Saudi-funded efforts within our borders are undermining and threatening our very existence as a free nation, nullifies American counter-terrorism measures and ignores the warnings of those charged with protecting us. Such a decision dangerously ignores reality and courts our own destruction.


IRJMilne

"Do you actually believe that to be the most egregious deficiency in Saudi Arabia? Did you read the litany of abuses that women endure there?

No. And yes. If you had carried on reading my point there, you would have seen that my point was that the editor should stick to his more solid arguments. I didn't feel that his article made a clear case for a certain policy based on clear reasoning, and it seemed to use the journalistic tactic of dropping unnecessary information in amongst important information to help build up the important information. I might also have mentioned the quotation about the point that this event was to be "funded by the taxpayer", for example. The financial cost of this visit is surely not one of the editors points? We can't seriously start sending bills to regimes we dislike who we entertain, and waive bills for those we like.

Some of my comparisons are not ideal - the problem of the French and the CAP is not comparable to Saudis funding terrorist-linked groups. I was trying to point to my general misgivings. I was on the Mall yesterday in fact and I don't like seeing the Mall bedecked in "there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet". But I think we have to be with them or against them - I find the "keeping at arms length but with tacit approval etc" stance more repulsive than a hopefully constructive policy of encouraging reform and agreement. We share some values with some historic Islamic states, but not with this particular Islamic state. I just think that a constructive policy is worth a shot, and is a more practical and constructive policy than posturing moral gesture-politics like Vincent Cable's. If they are that bad, we should cut them off or even consider "intervention".

If you want I can give a fuller reply to your post but I'm short of time at the moment. My whole post could be summed up as saying, what policy would the editor like instead, and I'm instinctively dubious about anything principally supported by the Lib Dems and the Independent.

atheling

Here's a news article for Adam in London who thinks Malaysia is so "progressive" for Muslim women:

"KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia's Muslim men are suffering sleepless nights and cannot pray properly because their thoughts are distracted by a growing number of women who wear sexy clothes in public, a prominent cleric said.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, said he wanted to speak about the "emotional abuse" that men face because it is seldom discussed, the party reported on its Web site Wednesday.

"We always [hear about] the abuse of children and wives in households, which is easily perceived by the eye, but the emotional abuse of men cannot be seen," Nik Abdul Aziz said. "Our prayers become unfocused and our sleep is often disturbed."

Nik Abdul Aziz has made controversial comments about women in the past, including that women should stop wearing lipstick and perfume to lower the risk of being raped. Women's groups have slammed his statements, saying Islam teaches both men and women to be responsible for modesty. They say comments like these encourage rapes because it puts the onus on women.

Nik Abdul Aziz's fundamentalist party has about 800,000 members. He is also the chief minister of northeastern Kelantan, the only one of Malaysia's 13 states that is not ruled by the moderate National Front governing coalition.

His party's Web site published an illustration Wednesday of how women should dress — in long, flowing headscarves covering their hair and chests and "baggy and loose" long-sleeved, floor-length dresses.

Most women from Malaysia's Malay Muslim majority wear a modest form of Islamic clothing, though younger women in cities sometimes wear body-hugging dresses or tight T-shirts and jeans.

In Kelantan, the Islamic party has fined Muslim women for not wearing headscarves in workplaces and implemented separate check-out lines for men and women in supermarkets."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,306658,00.html

Fining women for not wearing headscarves? Separate checkout lines in supermarkets?

Any man who thinks this is "okay" is a misogynist.

Frogg, USA

It will be a slow process with Saudi Arabia; but, I have read several articles over the past few years that they have been taking baby steps towards democracy. Some links follow, if interested.

------------------

ABDULLAH SEES ELECTED LEADERS WITHIN 15 YEARS

By Nicholas Kralev
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
August 19, 2005

Saudi King Abdullah promised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a series of reforms that could give the desert kingdom an elected government within 10 to 15 years, says a senior U.S. official who was present when the two met in June.

"He professed to transform his country and talked about having a representative government within a decade or a decade and a half," said the official, who asked not to be named.

The Saudis have taken a step toward democracy by holding elections for municipal advisory councils.

"The expectations from Saudi Arabia are high," a State Department official said yesterday. "The people are seeing reforms around the region and want to be part of the trend, and leaders cannot afford to ignore that."

He said some of King Abdullah's actions since ascending to the throne, particularly his pardon of five imprisoned reform activists last week, "signal a response to popular demand."
http://insider.washingtontimes.com/articles/normal.php?StoryID=20050819-121925-1936r

-------------------

SAUDI ARABIA'S DEMOCRATIC BABY STEPS
by Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Taipei Times
January 23, 2005

http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/11346

-----------------------

VOTE SEEN AS BREAKTHROUGH FOR SAUDI WOMEN

By ABDULLAH AL-SHIHRI, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 16,10:54 PM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050917/ap_on_re_mi_ea/saudi_women_s_rights

------------------------


Anna

What happened to *Mr. Mayhew*? Hopefully a few aspirins and a long, long nap will help.

Anna

Oh, and btw, for the *Mr. Mayhews* of this world.......pffffffft! to all that you say.

Cheers, boyo!

Anna

And, um... pffffft....! for picking on atheling D))

Anna

I have one more thought to add to this discussion which is simple. It has nothing to do with oil but plenty to do with human rights and politics.

Women account for 50% of the world's population. It's simple, yet few seem to understand what this means.

50%. Full stop.

What occurs in the Magic Kingdom and other countries will end at some point. There are not enough Henry Mayhews of the world to change the inevitable.

IRJMilne

"Women account for 50% of the world's population. It's simple, yet few seem to understand what this means."

I have no idea what it means. What *does* it mean? Every organic society in history has asigned differing roles to men and women. Where societies have, in rare cases, not been patriarchal, they have been matriarchal. You can hardly expect a philosophically conservative website to support artificial reconstructions of society based upon denying organic developments in society.

I don't in principal object to dress-code laws. We don't have them in the UK because they are not part of our history at all. I can't for the life of me see why some women have such a thing against dresses anyway. As a young boy I thought this rather ludicrous - I can remember complaining to my mum that girls looked prettier in dresses than trousers on the way back from nursery school. I don't especially see why that is a matter for the law, but nor do I see that the compulsory wearing of headscarves is a gross crime against humanity. If a man rapes a woman that is nothing to do with how some woman has dressed. But people say things like that in this country - a prevalance of such views in Saudi Arabia is still not a good reason to break diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, and no-one has yet explained what positive effects an anti-Saudi policy would have, and how it should practically be carried out.

Whether fining women for not wearing headscarves is "okay" is immaterial. The question is, what should our diplomatic relations be to such a society, given circs. I don't personally see anything much wrong with the examples given (ie, headscarves and shopping queues - the latter is curious but I don't see how it's oppressive - do men have special super fast queues, whilst women are made to go along on hands and knees in their queues? It merely sounds like an odd transposition of school life into adult life) , but I am quite well aware that women suffer worse in most of the Muslim theocracies/semi-theocracies than having to wear headscarves. Even so, I am still waiting for someone to explain their fully worked out policy regarding UK relations with Saudi Arabia. The anti-Saudi group do not seem to be applying themselves to practicalities.

atheling

IRJMilne:

"The anti-Saudi group do not seem to be applying themselves to practicalities."

Must those "practicalities" involve wining and dining Saudi princes? Smiling and pretending that we're all friends while they fund terrorists who kill innocent members of our society?

How low must those "practicalities" stoop in your book?

atheling

Here's good news!

The Saudis and Kuwaitis ARE progressing:

Move over, Dr. Phil, there's a new relationship expert in town.

He's Saudi author and cleric, "Dr." Muhammad Al-'Arifi, who in a remarkable segment broadcast on Saudi and Kuwaiti television in September, counseled young Muslim men on how to treat their wives.

"Admonish them – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times," he advised. "If this doesn't help, refuse to share their beds."

And if that doesn't work?

"Beat them," one of his three young advisees responded.

"That's right," Al-'Arifi said.

Click here to view the segment at MEMRITV.org

He goes on to calmly explain to the young men that hitting their future wives in the face is a no-no.

"Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals," he explained. "Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face."

His final words of wisdom?

"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore," he tells the men to tell their wives. "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly.

"He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child -- slapping them right and left.

"Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,307680,00.html

Wow, you guys were right. They ARE enlightened in Saudi Arabis... it's sanctioned to beat your wife like a human being and not like an animal.

Be sure not to mark up her face so she doesn't look ugly...

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The group's adherents were given the name "Illuminati", although they called themselves "Perfectibilists". The group has also been called the Illuminati Order and the Bavarian Illuminati, and the movement itself has been referred to as Illuminism.

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