Hajj symposium calls for coexistence and tolerance

Time: August 06, 2019  

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  • Kingdom’s benevolent contributions are rooted in the memory of humanity: KSRelief chief

MAKKAH: The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium began on Monday in Makkah, with peaceful coexistence as its main theme.
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Bentin opened the two-day gathering at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel. Welcoming the participants, who include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and across the Islamic world, he said that the title of this year’s event, “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance,” reflects the desire of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote a message of peace and harmony.
He highlighted the efforts made and services provided by his ministry to benefit Hajj pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom. Bentin said that the king is following with great interest the experiences of pilgrims, along with the ongoing development projects in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.
The minister noted that two million electronic visas were issued to pilgrims this year with no problems, and said the best is yet to come as improvements continue to the services and assistance offered to visitors. He added that the government is keen to do all it can to ensure the comfort and safety of pilgrims, so they can fully devote themselves to worship and Hajj rituals.
“Makkah is currently receiving a large number of pilgrims, equal to the city’s population,” Bentin said. “It is thanks to the excellent management and advanced organizational skills that we feel that they are part of the population of Makkah. More than 350,000 people came from all over the Kingdom to serve the pilgrims, and we in Saudi Arabia are proud to serve them.”
He added that with its scientific and Islamic science themes, the symposium provides a great service to Muslims, researchers and the wider world.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser to the Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), presided over the first session of the symposium. He hailed the Kingdom’s leading humanitarian role in providing various forms of assistance to the needy in countries around the world.
“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country whose benevolent contributions are deeply rooted in the memory of humanity. It has provided about $92.4 billion (SR347 billion) to support 84 countries in the world between 1996 and 2019,” he said.
During the second session, which was chaired by Shiekh Saad Al-Shithri, an adviser to the Royal Court, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, also an adviser to the Royal Court and a member of the Senior Ulema Council, and Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, discussed tolerance and coexistence from an Islamic perspective.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, who is also general supervisor of the symposium, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example for others to follow.
“We receive pilgrims from various nationalities and cultures, and we treat them equally,” he said “What we expect from them is that they focus on performing the Hajj rituals in a peaceful and secure environment.”

SPEEDREAD

• Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example to follow, says deputy Hajj minister.

• Riyadh has provided about SR347 billion to support 84 countries in the world.

Mashat added that for Muslims to practice tolerance and coexistence fruitfully, they should start by showing acceptance for, and acting in accordance with, Islam’s moderate principles.
“The culture of tolerance begins within the person, who can then promote and spread that culture. Saudi Arabian leadership and citizens are an example that clearly and practically embodies this fact,” he added.
“We don’t only have scholars from all parts of the world (at the conference), but experts from various fields of science will also discuss coexistence and tolerance. People of the same profession, such as doctors, will discuss how a physician should be tolerant and how he coexists with others. Religious scholars also will discuss the same thing.” He added that all topics and workshops in the symposium will be based around the title theme.
On Tuesday, Mashat was scheduled to preside over a session titled “Humanity in the Digital Age.” The speakers were due to include: Dr. Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development; Sultan Al-Rumaithi, head of the Muslim Council of Elders in the UAE; Arwa Arab, assistant professor at King Abdul Aziz University’s department of psychology; and Dr. Ahmed Al-Thenayan, the Saudi deputy minister for technology and digital capacities.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”
The first Hajj Grand Symposium was held in 1977 under the title “Awareness on Hajj.” Each year it focuses on different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, in a bid to promote awareness of Islam.
This year, the ministry has arranged special trips for guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Madinah, as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

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Saudi minister of Islamic affairs and Tunisia’s grand mufti discuss ways of propagating moderation, compassion

Time: July 05, 2019  

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh meets Othman Battikh, the grand mufti of Tunisia. (SPA)

JEDDAH: The Saudi minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, received Othman Battikh, the grand mufti of Tunisia, on Thursday in Jeddah.

Al-Asheikh praised the good relations that bind Saudi Arabia to Tunisia, and their sharing of common interests with regards to matters of great import for Muslims.

“Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking care of Islamic affairs and serving Muslims around the world in line with the Kingdom’s leading position in the Islamic world and its special status for Muslims, and the fact that it hosts the Two Holy Mosques,” he said.

He also noted that the king and the crown prince have particular concern for the Tunisian people, and assured his visitor of the keenness of the Saudi Islamic Ministry to mend fences with various Islamic leaders, which comes in line with the Kingdom’s policy to establish the bases for common Islamic action and to spread moderation.

From his side, Battikh said that the Kingdom is the leader of the Islamic world, and is the sponsor of security and faith, and that it has a longstanding history in serving Islam and Muslims and in uniting them against all that threatens security and stability.

He said that the Kingdom’s efforts are evident to everyone, especially since it serves the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims and visitors, and that the Tunisian people will never forget the Kingdom’s stances in supporting Tunisia.

Battikh pointed out that the meeting with Al-Asheikh is part of the continuous joint efforts to benefit from the Kingdom’s experience in fighting terrorism and promoting moderation and intellectual security.

The Tunisian mufti concluded by praising the efforts of the Saudi ministry in serving Islamic action around the globe, and in spreading the values of tolerance, and compassion that form an integral part of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah.

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Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for UN plan to protect holy sites

Time: June 13, 2019  

Saudi official Faisal Al-Haqbani speaks at the UN in New York. (SPA)
  • ‘Personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its support for the initiative of the high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Moratinos, to safeguard religious sites.

The Kingdom said that attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places is a terrorist act that requires to be addressed.

This support was reaffirmed during a speech by the Faisal Al-Haqbani, the special political and decolonization committee’s official from the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN, in a meeting of the UNAOC at the UN headquarters in New York.

Attacks on places of worship are terrorist acts that must be combatted, said Al-Haqbani, who thanked Moratinos and the UNAOC for holding the meeting.

Many ongoing conflicts broke out due to religious, linguistic or ethnic differences, Al-Haqbani added.

He stressed that the increasing attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places are terrorist acts. These practices and acts that fuel terrorism and spread ideas of hatred and practices of injustice and civilizational clash must be confronted by all.

Saudi Arabia serves the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah and receives millions of worshippers, making it a leader in managing huge crowds in small areas, he said.

The initiative of Moratinos promotes love, peace and security, and confronts all those who violate holy sites, Al-Haqbani said, proposing the criminalization of attacks on places of worship.

He affirmed that the Kingdom supports the initiative of the high representative and is ready to provide all the support in this field.

He stressed that personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values, nor the destruction of social systems.

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At Islamic Summit, King Salman slams terror, extremism

Time: June 02, 2019  

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OIC leaders pose for a group photo in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Monarch expresses support for ‘legitimate rights’ of ‘brotherly Palestinian people’
  • Says OIC restructuring and reforming crucial to address the challenges facing the Muslim world

MAKKAH: Extremism and terrorism are “the most serious scourge” facing the world, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said on Friday at the 14th Islamic Summit, organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah.

The summit’s theme was “Hand in Hand Toward the Future,” and was chaired by the king, who received leaders and heads of Muslim-majority countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal also received the guests.

In his speech, King Salman thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his efforts as chairman of the previous summit.

The king also thanked OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen for his efforts to promote Islamic cooperation.

“The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the OIC’s work, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights,” King Salman said.

Efforts must be made to combat extremism and terrorism, expose their supporters, and dry up their financial resources in all available ways, he added.

FASTFACT

• The OIC secretary-general has congratulated King Salman on assuming the presidency of the Islamic Summit.

• The OIC Summit denounced US moves to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

• The OIC called for a ‘boycott’ of countries that have opened diplomatic missions in the city.

• The OIC condemned the inhumane situation of Rohingya Muslims, urging a halt to violence.

“During this holy month (of Ramadan), commercial vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were subjected near the UAE’s territorial waters to terrorist sabotage. This poses a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime traffic, and to regional and international security,” he said.

“Also, two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked by drones launched by Iranian-backed terrorist militias … These subversive terrorist acts not only target the Kingdom and the Gulf region, but also the security of navigation and world energy supplies,” he added.

“It is painful that Muslims make up the highest proportion of displaced people and refugees worldwide due to unrest, wars, and a decline in safe living opportunities in their countries,” King Salman said.

“Emanating from this, Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reconcile different viewpoints to serve Islamic countries and their peoples, while continuing to provide assistance … through humanitarian and relief efforts in order to maintain the sovereignty, security and stability of Islamic countries.”

Restructuring, developing and reforming the OIC is crucial to address the challenges facing the Muslim world, the king added.

“Through its presidency of the summit, Saudi Arabia will endeavor to work with OIC member states and the OIC General Secretariat … to achieve (people’s) aspirations,” he said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom has always worked for the stability of all Arab and Muslim peoples.

“It always tries to build bridges of investments, commerce, empower women and youths. It continually does its best to create an environment where technology and innovation prevail, not only in Saudi Arabia but also everywhere in the Muslim world,” he added.

Al-Othaimeen said he received a cable message from Chinese President Xi Jinping that read: “The OIC represents a symbol of solidarity among Muslim countries, and it has been making important contributions to promote cooperation among its member states for 50 years, and that is really appreciated.”

The message added: “The Chinese side attaches great importance to its friendly relations with Muslim countries, and the OIC is an important bridge for cooperation between China and the Islamic world.”

The cable continued: “We are also keen to work with Muslim countries to promote mutual political trust, promote practical cooperation, intensify civilizational dialogue, open up wider horizons for friendly relations between China and the Islamic world, and contribute to build a society of common destiny for mankind.”

Al-Jubeir said the Islamic world is facing many challenges, but “there are even more opportunities to develop. The challenges are in extremism, terrorism, sectarianism and conflicts.”

It is painful that Muslims make up the highest proportion of displaced people and refugees worldwide due to unrest, wars and decline of safe living opportunities in their countries.

King Salman

The Islamic world has tremendous natural resources, he added. “The Muslim world makes up a third of the whole world, but unluckily there are some parties that work on hindering these opportunities and damaging the Muslim world’s capabilities,” he said.

“Some others spread sectarianism, while others do their utmost to support terrorism. Others provide terror militias with ballistic missiles and drones,” Al-Jubeir added.

“The country that does that all is Iran … The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states, Arab and Muslim countries will never accept such acts and behaviors,” he said.

“The whole Islamic world is now saying to Iran: Adopt policies that lead to respecting other people if you want to be respected,” he added.

“Supporting terror militias, bombing embassies, making clandestine terrorist cells, and smuggling weapons and explosives to other countries — these cannot be the behaviors of a country that wants to live peacefully and gain its neighbors’ respect,” he said, adding that Iran is the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.

The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “should be based on international resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Al-Jubeir said.

Jerry Maher, former CEO of Radio Sawt Beirut, told Arab News: “Arab and Muslim countries will review their policies and relations with Iran if it continues to escalate tensions in the region. Confrontation is possible.”

He said: “The message from the Arab and Muslim worlds to Iran is clear: That 1.5 billion Muslims stand behind Saudi Arabia and its leadership. They also reject these continuous threats and attacks against civilian areas (in the Kingdom).”

He added: “They (Tehran) didn’t expect the Arab and Muslim worlds to respond that quickly. Iran’s foreign minister and his deputy are visiting countries in the East and West in an attempt to find a solution, after they realized that something unexpected could happen.”

Saudi columnist Khalid Al-Sulaiman told Arab News that the Kingdom “is looking for active roles to be played by (Muslim) countries … to counter challenges in the region.”

He said: “Saudi Arabia has warned against Iranian expansionism, but that warning wasn’t taken seriously. Now Saudi Arabia is putting the Muslim world face to face with its responsibilities. Saudi Arabia today is the last line of defense for the Arab world.”

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Prominent Muslim figures: religious, cultural diversity don’t justify ‘conflict’

Time: May 30, 2019

1 / 10
The Makkah Declaration said it was everyone’s duty to fight terrorism, injustice, oppression and the violation of human rights. (SPA)
  • 1,200 prominent Muslim figures sign anti-extremism declaration

MAKKAH: A historic anti-extremism document has been signed by 1,200 figures from the Muslim world following a landmark gathering in the holy city of Makkah.

The four-day conference, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), was attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers who between them represented 139 countries. The delegates also represented 27 components of different Islamic sects.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was the first leader to sign the declaration and later received the scholars in the holy city. The king was given the final Makkah Declaration document.

Signatories confirmed they sought to interact with all walks of life to achieve the interests of human beings, promote noble values, build bridges, and to confront injustice and hatred.

The Makkah Declaration said that religious and cultural diversity did not justify conflict and that civilized dialogue was the path to overcoming historical differences.

It called for legislation to deter people who promoted hate and instigated violence, saying such laws would weaken the causes of religious and ethnic conflict. It condemned attacks on places of worship, calling them criminal acts that required a strong legislative and security response. It said the extremist ideas that motivated these types of attacks needed to be challenged.

The Makkah Declaration said it was everyone’s duty to fight terrorism, injustice, oppression and the violation of human rights. It also urged greater environmental protection, saying that wasting natural resources and causing pollution breached the rights of future generations.

King Salman received the dignateries in Makkah. (SPA)

It warned that Islamophobia stemmed from ignorance about the reality of Islam and that people clung to the misdeeds committed by those claiming to be Muslims and falsely attributing their acts to Islamic laws.

The declaration called for non-interference in the affairs of other states as it was an unacceptable violation, singling out the marketing of sectarian ideas or attempts to impose fatwas.

It recognized the principles of women’s empowerment, the rejection of their marginalization, the degradation of their dignity, the minimization of their role, or the obstruction of their opportunities in the religious, scientific, political or social arena. It called for the protection of young Muslims’ identity with special attention to five key points — religion, homeland, culture, history and language.

Identity should be protected from attempts at deliberate or unintentional exclusion or assimilation. Young people also needed to be protected from intellectual extremism and the idea that there was a clash of civilizations.

Young people should be equipped with the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and harmony in order to accept the existence of others, preserve their dignity and rights and respect the laws and regulations of the countries they lived in, the declaration added.

Earlier this week the conference heard that Saudi Arabia had fought extremism with “determination and decisiveness.”

“Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and fought all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism, with ideology, determination and decisiveness, and has opposed any identification with them,” King Salman said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia was committed to “spreading peace and coexistence and has established international intellectual platforms and centers to promote these principles,” the king said.

“We reiterate our invitation to stop the racist and xenophobic speech from whatever source and under any pretext whatsoever,” he added.

The MWL conference discussed topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”

The conference marked the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week. Arab League members and Gulf Cooperation Council leaders will discuss Iran’s recent aggression toward Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

In addition, dozens of member states from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have been invited to attend the body’s 14th Islamic summit.

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Iranian naval mines likely used in UAE tanker attacks: Bolton

Time: May 29, 2019  

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Bolton was received on Wednesday by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. (Emirates News Agency)
  • The UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers
  • ‘I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran’

ABU DHABI: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this month were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

The UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, which was followed two days later by drone strikes on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the strikes, which were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement. Iran has denied involvement in either attack.

“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” Bolton told reporters in Abu Dhabi but declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation in which the United States is taking part.

He said the tanker attacks were connected to the strike on oil pumping stations on Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline and a rocket attack on the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Bolton was received on Wednesday by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed where the two discussed cooperation and coordination as well as regional and international efforts to tackle terrorism according to Emirates News Agency.

John Bolton

@AmbJohnBolton

Glad to be in Abu Dhabi today where I met with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss our strategic partnership and regional challenges.

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Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman meanwhile dismissed the remarks made by Bolton that Iranian naval mines likely used in the UAE tanker attacks, Fars News said.

Bolton also said there had been an unsuccessful attack on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Yanbu a couple of days before the operation off the coast of the UAE. Saudi officials were not immediately available to for comment.

“We take all of this very seriously,” he said. “These attacks were unfortunately consistent with the very serious threat information that we had been obtaining. It is one reason we increased our deterrent capability in the region.”

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a pact, signed with other major powers, designed to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iran, notably targeting its key oil exports, and beefed up its military presence in the Gulf, accusing the Islamic Republic of threats to US troops and interests.

Bolton said the United States was trying to be “prudent and responsible” in its approach. “The point is to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.” Iran says the United States is indulging in psychological warfare and that it will not be cowed.

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King Salman tells moderate Islam conference that Saudi Arabia has fought ‘extremism, violence and terrorism’

Time: May 28, 2019  

1 / 3
The king said the world today is in serious need of a role model, and Muslims could answer that call. (SPA)
  • At a Muslim World League conference in Makkah, king calls for an end to racist and xenophobic speech
  • Saudi Arabia is committed to ‘spreading peace and co-existence’

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has fought against extremism with “determination and decisiveness,” King Salman told a Muslim World League (MWL) conference on Monday.

In an address to the MWL’s conference in Makkah on moderate Islam, the king called for an end to racist and xenophobic speech.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and fought all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism, with ideology, determination and decisiveness, and has opposed any identification with them,” the king said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.

Saudi Arabia is committed to “spreading peace and coexistence and has established international intellectual platforms and centers to promote these principles,” the king said.

“We reiterate our invitation to stop the racist and xenophobic speech from whatever source and under any pretext whatsoever,” he added.

FASTFACT

● King calls for an end to racist and xenophobic speech.

● The conference marks the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week.

● Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

The king said the world today is in serious need of a role model and that Muslims can help spread the good values in the world.

The MWL, an international nongovernmental Islamic organization, based in Makkah, is holding the “Moderation and Indications” conference for four days.  The event is being attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers from the Muslim world.

The conference marks the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week. They include emergency meetings of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League convened by Saudi Arabia to discuss the heightened tensions in the region with Iran.

Participants at the start Monday of the Muslim World League Conference in Makkah. (SPA photo)

The event will discuss topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Neutral Speeches and the Contemporary Age” under the theme of “Moderation Between Authenticity and Modernity.

Other topics will include “Differences and the Culture of Moderation” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”

The fifth session of the conference will focus on “Moderation and the Message of Civilized Communication.” Participants will discuss religious pluralism and cultural communication, and the common values in contemporary international relations.

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UN backs Saudi Arabia’s proposals on justice, crime prevention

27/05/19

Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari. (Supplied)
  • KSA called on member states to review national legislation to exchange experiences and techniques to effectively combat cybercrime
  • Summit resolutions target terror, cybercrime, online child abuse

GENEVA: A UN commission on crime prevention has unanimously ratified resolutions by Saudi Arabia targeting terrorism, child exploitation and cybercrime.
The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice ratification came during its 28th session at the UN headquarters in Vienna.
The most important of the Kingdom’s four resolutions seeks to combat child sexual exploitation through the internet, provide technical assistance for the implementation of international conventions to fight terrorism, and strengthen technical assistance and international cooperation to combat cybercrime.
Through these resolutions, the Kingdom highlighted the need for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to help provide access to justice for victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse through the Internet according to national legislation.
Saudi Arabia called on member states to exchange experiences on raising awareness and reporting cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation and urged them to learn from the experiences of other states in fighting extremism, recruitment and incitement of individuals to carry out terrorist acts.
The Kingdom also called on member states to review national legislation to exchange experiences and techniques to effectively combat cybercrime.
Saudi Arabia emphasized the main topics to be discussed during the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, and the need to focus on strengthening confidence in the rule of law, international coordination and cooperation in criminal matters, and deepening public-private sector partnerships in crime prevention efforts.
Addressing the commission’s 28th session, Abdullah bin Fakhri Al-Ansari, an adviser to the Saudi Interior Ministry, said that terrorism poses a major threat to international peace and security, and undermines the fundamental values ​​of the UN.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Saudi Arabia called on member states to exchange experiences on raising awareness and reporting cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

• The Kingdom also called on member states to review national legislation to exchange experiences and techniques to effectively combat cybercrime.

Al-Ansari, who is also the ministry’s director general of legal affairs and international cooperation, called for coordination and cooperation between states and organizations at regional and international levels to fight terrorism, exchange best practices, and assist in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases.
Leading the Saudi delegation at the conference, he called for the provision of technical assistance in capacity-building, prevention, awareness-raising, international cooperation, data collection, research, and analysis to combat cybercrime.
Al-Ansari stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation around the world to track down perpetrators by criminalizing the possession, distribution, and production of child sexual abuse materials.
He highlighted the importance of capacity-building, the provision of services and support to victims of child abuse through the Internet, providing training and strengthening the technical capacity of law enforcement agencies, providing technical support for the development of effective policies and programs, and implementing awareness-raising and education campaigns to protect children from abuse.

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Saudi Arabia stresses need for enhanced cooperation in global fight against terrorism

Time: May 24, 2019  

The commission heard that the Kingdom’s security services had uncovered and disrupted active terrorist cells across the country. (SPA)
  • No effort is being spared in the fight against terrorism in the Kingdom
  • A number of initiatives have been developed to address the problem of returning terrorist fighters

JEDDAH: The fight against terrorism remains a global priority, Saudi Arabia said on Thursday, as the Kingdom emphasized the need for the international community to work together to eradicate the threat it poses.

The comments were included in a speech delivered by the Saudi delegation at the 28th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Geneva. Led by Interior Ministry adviser Abdullah Al-Ansari, the delegates presented a review of the Kingdom’s efforts in the realms of crime prevention and criminal justice. They highlighted the fact that no effort is being spared in the fight against terrorism, which is a high priority for the nation.

The Saudis also stressed the need for continued international cooperation to defeat terrorism, and said that the Kingdom has ratified most of the international measured designed to combat the threat. The country has also implemented a number of anti-terror measures, including: the establishment of a Presidency of State Security to address security challenges, in particular those posed by terrorism and its financing; the founding of a National Cybersecurity Authority to address cyber threats; and the amendment of counterterrorism laws.

The commission heard that the Kingdom’s security services had uncovered and disrupted active terrorist cells across the country. In addition, a number of initiatives have been developed to address the problem of returning terrorist fighters. These include the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, the members of which includes the GCC states, and which is jointly led by Saudi Arabia and the United States. It maintains strict control over the banking sector, ensures the proper organization of the charitable sector, and imposes sanctions on those found guilty of financing terrorism.

The delegation pointed out that the Kingdom continues to lay the foundations for a long-term strategy to defeat extremism. This includes the founding of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, and the expansion of anti-extremism programs through the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue to address the growing threat of radicalization and recruitment of young people by armed militias such as Daesh.

At the international level, the Kingdom has pledged $100 million to support the G5 Sahel counterterrorism task force in West Africa, and is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. In addition, Saudi experts participate in joint military programs targeting terrorism around the world.

The country also hosted a meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition to address the ideological, financial, military and media aspects of the fight against terrorism, and the Ministry of Interior has implemented numerous judicial and legal assistance requests to assist in the battle.

A number of draft resolutions arose from the session, the most important of which included: technical assistance for the implementation of international counterterrorism conventions; combating the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children; strengthening technical assistance and international cooperation to combat cybercrime; and the adoption of preparations for the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April 2020 in Kyoto, Japan. During discussions about these resolutions, most of the amendments suggested by the Kingdom were adopted to strengthen international cooperation.

The Saudi delegates also held meetings with officials from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, including officials from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and the Bureau of Counterterrorism. They discussed ways to enhance cooperation and enhance the capability of law-enforcement officers to combat such crimes.

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Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

Time: May 21, 2019

Debris of a drone used in a previous attack by Houthi militants. (AFP/File photo)
  • Iran-backed militias have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, says analyst
  • This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed two missiles launched from Yemen by Iran-aligned Houthi militias on Monday.

The missiles were reported to have been heading toward Makkah and Jeddah.

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition said that the missiles were destroyed over Taif in the early morning, and that fragments from the first projectile had landed in Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends toward Makkah.

Residents in Jeddah told Arab News that they heard a loud blast early on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017.

Videos circulating on social media reportedly show the second missile being intercepted and destroyed in the skies over King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Houthi attack and commended the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces for their vigilance.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said: “This isn’t the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have fired missiles close to the holy city of Makkah.”

They have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, he added.

“They care nothing for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan. What they did today, and what they did in the past, clearly reveal their sinister designs to strike at the heart of the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

“Now is the time for all Muslim nations in the world to come to the defense of the holy land. Our sacred places are under attack from Iran, the Houthis and their militias,” he added.

“Mere condemnation won’t do. Iran and the Houthis have crossed a red line, and this calls for deterrent action against Tehran,” he said.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government also condemned the Houthis’ attempt to target Makkah, calling it “a full-fledged terrorist attack.”

Monday’s aggression came as Saudi Arabia warned that recent drone attacks against its oil-pumping stations by the Houthis will jeopardize UN peace efforts in Yemen and lead to further escalation in the region.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, said “seven explosive drones” directed by the Houthis attacked pumping stations on May 14 in the cities of Dawadmi and Afif “on the east-west oil pipeline that transfers Saudi oil to Yanbu port and to the rest of the world.”

He urged UN Security Council members, in a letter circulated on Monday, “to disarm this terrorist militia in order to prevent the escalation of these attacks which increase regional tensions and raise the risks of a broader regional confrontation.”

Al-Shehri said Monday’s attack is a reminder to Muslim nations about the clear and present danger from Iran.  “Tehran timed the attack just as King Salman has called for a meeting in Makkah to discuss the threat from Iran to the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis at the Kingdom since 2015.

This article was first published in Arab News

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