Taif University vows to root out extremism from campus

Time: April 18, 2018

TAIF – Taif University is determined to confront extremist thoughts and ideologies promoted by Al-Ikhwan and other groups in the campus, said its president Dr. Hussam Bin Abdulwahab Zaman. “We’ll promote moderate Islamic views and patriotism among our staff and students,” he added.

Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Zaman emphasized his university’s resolve to root out extremism, adding that extremism has negatively affected Saudi society over the past 40 years. “We’ll redesign our curricular and co-curricular programs for this purpose.”

Dr. Zaman said the university would foil efforts by extremist groups to recruit young men and women. He was reiterating a recent comment made by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, during an interview with The Times magazine.

He spoke about different phases of how ordinary people are transformed into extremists. “An ordinary person becomes conservative before subscribing extremism little by little until he becomes a full-scale terrorist,” he said citing Al-Ikhwan as an example.

He said the university faced opposition from some quarters within the Kingdom when it decided to change its Islamic textbooks as part of the national transformation program. “We have been able to overcome that opposition through determination,” he added.

“As the Crown Prince pointed out we don’t have more time to waste discussing such objections,” the president said while commending the support received from Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and Education Minister Ahmed Al-Isa to change the curricula.

“We have decided to review the academic program for the Shariah College in consultation with experts at the Justice Ministry. We also wanted to strengthen the national identity of our students by making the Kingdom’s history and culture a mandatory subject for them to learn,” he said.

Zaman said the new textbooks for Islamic culture and sciences would promote qualities such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, cooperation, dedication and positive spirit as well as the ability to take responsibility and do their work with perfection.

“It will also encourage students to take initiatives, take part in social welfare programs, deal with others with respect and learn new knowledge and sciences,” he added. The new textbooks are designed to explain the real Islam as stated by the Crown Prince.

The revised curricula, he said, aims to produce students with vast capabilities while upholding trustworthiness and other moral values. “We want to produce model graduates who will be upholding Islamic values and moderate views not only in their personal lives but also while dealing with other members of society,” he pointed out.

He said the Taif University had organized a number of conferences and seminars this year to promote moderate Islamic values and teachings among its students and highlight the stand of Islam on extremism, new media and deviant thoughts.

Dr. Zaman said the university was successful in recruiting a substantial number of student leaders including women who are capable of enlightening their colleagues about the danger posed by extremism and the need to confront such dangerous ideologies.

He said the university would make use of cultural programs such as dramas to disseminate moderate values among students and encourage them to work for national unity.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Mohammed bin Salman and Sururism

Time: 13 April 2018

During his milestone visit to the United States, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a very important interview to Time magazine in which he described the followers of the Sururist Movement as “the most extreme” in the Middle East. He said they were “ahead a little bit within the Muslim Brotherhood,” adding “in our law they are criminals and whenever we have enough evidence against any one of them, they will face a court.”

This interview was part of a series of media appearances by the prince at a number of American media outlets, where he candidly discussed extremist groups and combating extremism. Talking about Sururism and its extensive threat comes within a very important context.

“The new stance which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have adopted for years against these extremist groups has greatly evolved over the course of classifying these movements as terror groups, legally pursuing them and besieging the countries that support them”

Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi

False dissociation

Sururism is a wide movement within what was known as the Islamic Awakening or ‘Sahwa’, and it is the most important ideological experiment that combines Salafism with the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sururism is attributed to Mohammed Surur Zine El Abidine, a Syrian national who became a dissident of the Muslim Brotherhood. Three others participated in this with him, Mohammed Qutb, Abdel Moneim Al-Azzi (also known as Mohammed Ahmed Al-Rashed) and Abdul Rahman Abdul Khaliq, but they failed, and he succeeded.

I have previously written about this dangerous movement and conducted a research on the subject and published it in the first issue of the monthly Al Mesbar book in January 2007. I’ve also written plenty of articles on the matter. Other researchers have also discussed this topic. I will not repeat what’s been written then but I will quickly go over a few details.

Following in the tradition of lies and deceit of political Islam symbols, Mohammed Surur wrote in As-Sunnah Magazine (Issue Number 27, 1993), an article entitled Sururism, in which he refers to his earlier 10-year-long affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. He denied having anything to do with the name of the Sururist movement and repudiated it. He wrote: “What’s interesting is that some of my old friends, from the initial group, were the ones who invented this term which was taken on by their enemies.”

He denied the existence of this organization saying: “I do not know of a group called Sururist, and I was never in charge of any group.” However, years later, Surur said quite the exact opposite.

In an interview with well-known Muslim Brotherhood member Azzam Tamimi in his show ‘Muraja’at’ (third episode) which was aired on Al-Hiwar television channel on March 24, 2008, he retracted from his earlier position and acknowledged the existence of a group and a movement saying: “This movement started in Saudi Arabia, and its affiliates are not of one nationality.” He added that it is “real” and that it is “an organization and a movement.”

Differences with Muslim Brotherhood

Sururism is one of the Brotherhood’s products, but it is more extreme in its discourse and practices. It greatly profited from post 1979 circumstances so it spread with an unprecedented level of influence especially in Saudi Arabia.

In another interview, Sa’ad Al-Faqih told Azzam Tamimi that the movement was established by Saudi figures and not by Mohammed Surur. Faqih, however, always interprets events according to what he believes while making statements, and not according to how they really happened.

The relation between Sururism and the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia was characterized by its fluctuation between joint work and inter-party rivalry. They released “joint statements” to voice opposing political stances but they disagreed over political interests, as in the case of the 2005 municipal elections.

Considering the great resemblance between the two, there were great conflicts in the educational operation, charitable work as well as in the media. This is in addition to conflicts over acquisition of mosques and Qur’anic recitation sessions. Sururism and the Muslim Brotherhood are both dangerous, extremist takfirist groups that have the same aims as other terrorist and takfirist groups, such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Salafist jihadist movements.

However, they disagree with them over the “timing.” Finally, the new stance which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have adopted for years against these extremist groups has greatly evolved over the course of classifying these movements as terror groups, legally pursuing them and besieging the countries that support them.

The future points to even more measures to restrain them.

This article was first published in Al Arabiya English  

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Muslim World League chief calls for rejection of all forms of extremism

Time: April 08, 2018

  • The extremism wrongly labeled as Islam, and the opposite extremism known as Islamophobia.
  • The Muslim umma will not progress unless reverse the negative image.
JEDDAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) is using all of its academic and ideological resources to confront the evil forces that threaten the global safety of humanity, according to Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the organization’s secretary general.
Al-Issa was speaking at a conference on communal safety, organized by the MWL in collaboration with the Jordan based Global Forum for Moderation, and held under the auspices of Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki. The attendees included dozens of political figures, researchers and scholars from 35 countries.
Al-Issa criticized the two extremes the world is witnessing: “The extremism wrongly labeled as Islam, and the opposite extremism known as Islamophobia.” He added that extremists feed off of each other, and benefit from each other’s recklessness.
He reminded the attendees that extremism and terrorism fill a void created by hatred and useless sectarian conflicts, and that the only way out of the cycle is to confirm noble religious values, away from useless rhetoric and narratives.
He added that the Umma will not progress unless we reverse the negative image created by some minorities in non-Muslim countries and decide to confront these countries.
The conference also discussed the disruption of the ideological security, which leads to widespread corruption and exposes Arab and Muslim society to extremist ideological ideas, attacking its strength, unity and future aspirations.
The conference agreed on the importance of looking for a community consensus, a formula that achieves justice and guarantees everybody’s rights in a safe, pluralistic society, calling for the Islamic Umma to move from ideological rhetoric to a real contribution to civilization by promoting moderation, and move from a narrow vision to a holistic one by rearranging priorities and tackling global issues for the good of humanity.
It was highlighted that communal security can only be achieved through concerted efforts between security and religious authorities, coupled with active work among university students and youth organizations to confront extremism through education and empowerment.
They called for enhancing the global approach of Islam toward respecting countries, defending them and protecting them from all dangers, considering that extremists who claim to follow Islam should not justify Islamophobia.
The conference called for abiding by the true principles of Islam, interpreting them in a way that is clear to everyone, by contributing actively to building a civilized humane society, taking into consideration religious and cultural diversity, and striving to achieve social justice and enhance national unity, in collaboration with all the other components to achieve a society of justice, peace and compassion.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Bangladesh launches billion dollar ‘model’ mosques to counter radicals

Time: April 6,2018

  • The mosques will be used to preach against “distorted Islamic philosophy”.
  • Each mosque will cost 150 million taka ($1.8 million).
Dhaka: Bangladesh has launched a billion-dollar campaign to build hundreds of “model mosques,” partly with Saudi funding, to try to counter radical Islam in the Muslim-majority country, officials said Friday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who inaugurated work on nine mosques through a video conference on Thursday, is also trying to bolster links with Muslim groups in an election year, according to analysts.
A senior official said 560 “model mosques cum cultural centers” would be built in the next 30 months as part of a government attempt to fight extremism.
“In the next one to one and a half months, work on another 100 mosques will begin,” Shahmim Afzal, who heads the government Islamic affairs department, told AFP.
They will be used to preach against “distorted islamic philosophy” of groups such as Bangladesh’s largest opposition Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the official added.
The country has been fighting extremism in recent years after militants carried out attacks on religious minorities, secular activists and foreigners.
Afzal said the centers of worship would be open to women, unlike most of the country’s 300,000 mosques, and would be equipped with libraries and cultural centers.
“Each mosque will cost 150 million taka ($1.8 million),” he said.
Imams would be required to give sermons “to inspire people against extremism.”
Afzal, however, told AFP that Saudi Arabia was partly funding the project. “They have already sent part of the fund,” he said, without disclosing the amount.
An expert said the real aim of the billion dollar mosque project by Hasina’s government could be political.
“She wants to build rapport with traditional Islamic groups. She wants to win over these forces,” said Ataur Rahman, chairman of the Dhaka-based Center for Governance Studies.
Hasina’s ruling Awami Legaue party has over the decades championed secular causes.
In recent years Hasina has cracked down on hard-line groups, and tried and executed leaders of extremist groups accused of war crimes. She has made secularism part of Bangladesh’s constitution.
“Ahead of the elections, she is adjusting her secular stand by leaning toward a more rightist Islamist position,” Rahman said.
Hasina has said a general election will be held this year.
Some 90 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are Muslims.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia Strongly Condemns Terrorist Bombing in Mogadishu

Time: 23 March, 2018

An official source of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today expressed strong condemnation and denunciation of the explosion that took place in front of an hotel in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, leaving a number of innocents dead or injured.

In a statement, the source reiterated the solidarity of the Kingdom with and its stance by the side of the friendly Republic of Somalia against terrorism and extremism, extending condolence to the families of the victims, the government and people of the Republic of Somalia and wishing the injured a quick recovery.​

This article was first published in MOFA

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Saudi Arabia Condemns Shooting and Hostage-taking in Western France, Car Bombing in Southern Afghanistan, FM reports

Time: 23 March, 2018

Riyadh, Rajab 07, 1439, March 24, 2018, SPA — An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the shooting and hostage-taking in the western city of Trèbes, and condemned the car bombing at the entrance of a sports stadium in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah.
The source stressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism, and its support for the efforts of friendly countries against terrorism.
The source concluded his statement by offering condolences to the families of the victims, government and peoples of the friendly Republic of France and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, wishking the injured a speedy recovery.

This article was first published in Saudi Press Agency

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