Anti-Sunni Propaganda By Pro-Tehran Media Include Absurd Propaganda Against Saudi Arabia
29 September 2015
By Rasheed Abou-AlSamh
The concerted campaign of defamation against Saudi Arabia by its enemies has
been ramped up recently, with the exodus of Syrian refugees to Europe just
one of the reasons used to attack and unfairly criticize the Kingdom. Why
hasn't the Kingdom taken in a single Syrian refugee, asked many? Why doesn't
the Kingdom use the thousands of air-conditioned tents in Mina used to house
pilgrims during the Haj for only five days a year to house some of the
refugees, asked others maliciously. One writer, a Muslim doctor from India
even wrote that he would never undertake the Haj, even though he claimed to
be a devout Muslim, because he thought that those participating in the
pilgrimage were being hypocritical in supposedly ignoring the suffering of
their fellow Muslims in Syria!
What nonsense! First
of all, the tents in Mina are for use during the Haj, and are located outside
Makkah. It would not be reasonable or very humane to house thousands of
Syrian refugees there for months on end. Living in a refugee camp by
definition is rather wretched. Second, why cannot Hajis both perform their
Islamic duty and care for Syrian refugees by sending them prayers and money?
The two things are not mutually excludable.
there was the rumor, never confirmed by any Saudi official that I know of,
that the Kingdom had offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for the Syrian
refugees. This caused a negative reaction among some German politicians, who
criticized the alleged offer by saying that the refugees needed economic
assistance more than mosques. This rumor served again to make the Kingdom
look bad, not that mosques for the refugees would be a bad thing, but in
terms of priorities this was seen in the West as insensitive and helped play
on the fears of some right-wing Germans that Muslims want to take over their
society with their mosques and Sharia law.
the tragedy of the stampede at Mina on Thursday, that killed more than 700
pilgrims and left more than 800 seriously wounded, is again being used by the
Kingdom's enemies to unfairly attack it and once again say that the
organization and running of the Haj should be taken out of Saudi hands. This
is frankly ridiculous given the billions of riyals spent by the Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi government in improving all of the
pilgrimage sites, from the massive expansions of the Two Holy Mosques; to the
building of the light rail linking Mina, Arafat and Muzadalifah; to the new
expanded bridges and tunnels in Mina, and the high-speed rail line that is
being built to link Madinah to Makkah through Jeddah and its airport.
I have been reading many uninformed comments online following the Mina
tragedy asking why the Kingdom has not hired crowd control experts to study
the Haj. If they did just a little bit of research they would know that the
Kingdom has had a Haj Research Center since 1975. At first it was part of
King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and then in 1983 it was transferred to
Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah. In 1998, its name was changed to Custodian
of the Two Holy Mosques Institute of Haj Research.
Through the Haj Research Center and the Ministry of Haj, the Kingdom has
hired hundreds of experts, many of them foreign, to study the Haj and come up
with new crowd-control practices in order to make the whole journey safer for
everyone. The Saudi government has also kept a tight grip on pilgrim quotas
from each Muslim country because of the physical and geographical limitations
of Makkah, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. This is to ensure a comfortable and
safe Haj for everyone involved. Even so, every year Muslim countries complain
that their quota of Haj visas is not big enough. This year the number of
pilgrims was kept to around 2 million, down from 3 million in 2012, mostly
because of the expansion work in Makkah and Madinah, which has restricted the
available areas inside the two holy mosques.
stampede at Mina seems to have happened when two groups of pilgrims came face
to face, coming from opposite directions on a one-way street. The very high
heat, above 40 degrees Celsius, the fervor of many of the pilgrims who wanted
to get to the Jamarat area quickly to stone the Devil, and the big bags being
carried by many of the pilgrims all contributed to the disaster. Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered a full investigation of the
accident, so we should all wait to see the results of it. After the fateful
crane crash in the Holy Haram on Sept. 11 the king ordered an investigation,
blamed the Binladen construction company for negligence and barred their
executives from leaving the country, and swiftly announced monetary
compensation for all of the victims. That is far from sweeping it under the
carpet, and we can be sure that the same is being done in the Mina
Saudi Arabia's enemies should be
ashamed of themselves for trying to score political points against the
Kingdom by using the innocent victims of these tragedies. If the Kingdom had
been truly negligent in taking care of the pilgrims, I don't think anyone
would object to such criticisms. But when the Kingdom has spent billions of
riyals and man-hours planning and improving the various pilgrimage areas, it
is not only unfair to blame the Kingdom for these disasters. It is downright
cynical. What we really need are constructive suggestions on how to make the
Haj safer for everyone involved.
Anti-Sunni Propaganda By Pro-Tehran Media Flayed
Some UK newspapers have come in for intense criticism for publishing
incorrect stories about the reasons for the stampede in Mina on Thursday.
Colin Freeman, the chief foreign correspondent for The Telegraph, was
criticized on social media for a story alleging that ''the deadly crush had
been caused by police closing two road entrances because of a visit by VIPs
to the nearby palace of King Salman.''
In reality, the
stampede took place on a street which is far from the palace. Journalists who
are aware of the topography of the area laughed both at the spurious story
and at the writer's ignorance.
''Rather than accepting
wild allegations, he should have crosschecked with people on the ground
concerning the location of Street No. 204 (where the tragedy occurred) and
the location of King Salman's palace,'' said Jamil Radwan, an Egyptian
journalist who is covering Haj. ''The two are poles apart. Also, there is
absolutely no VIP movement in that area,'' he reiterated.
In a statement to the media, Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin
Nawaf, said claims that the stampede had occurred because of VIP movements
were completely false. ''This is a malicious falsehood which has no basis
whatsoever in truth. The vehicles of Saudi dignitaries do not travel through
this area,'' he said and explained the source of the rumor.
''To the best of our knowledge, the rumor originated on Iranian
state-controlled channels, Press TV and Lebanese Adiyar, which recently
falsely claimed that 200 mosques were being built in Germany by Saudi Arabia
for Syrian refugees.''
He said it was unfortunate that
mainstream British newspapers had accepted the story as true without checking
the reliability of the sources.
analyst Nawaf Obaid said: ''It is a classic case of amateur journalism by
certain UK media outlets. (They) have created a parallel fictional reality.''
Prince Mohammed said that King Salman had ordered a full investigation into
the cause of the catastrophe and as soon as the results are known, they will
be made public.
Muslim World League chief also
denounced Iranian criticism of Saudi Arabia.
''Irresponsible statements from some Iranian officials are aimed at harming
Saudi Arabia and its leaders,'' said MWL Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Turki.
''They want to harm Muslims who have faith in Saudi Arabia and its leadership
which serves the two holy mosques.''
''What kind of
news story is that?'' asked Saudi writer and educator Khaled Al-Awadh on his
Twitter account in response to Freeman of The Telegraph.
British journalist Ismaeel Nakhuda said the majority of Western media had no
idea about the geography of Haj sites and so they often made mistakes.
In response, some suggested that the opportunity should be used to educate
journalists about Mina and the Haj rituals. ''One radio station suggested
(creation of) shopping malls in Mina,'' said a representative of the Council
of British Hajis.
A Saudi, who tweets with the handle
@nawaf442, posted a tweet in which he said: ''Just for information: A stampede
at a stadium in Sheffield, England, during a Liverpool vs Nottingham match,
attended by 40,000 spectators resulted in 100 deaths.'' That tweet was
reproduced 15,000 times.
A pilgrim from Pakistan,
Mohammed Omar Ali Khan, said it was very unfortunate that some people and
countries were indulging in politics over the dead bodies of the pilgrims.
''It is very shameful. May Allah give those countries guidance and lead them
to respect the dead. I will forgive the media because they don't know about
our rituals and the topography.''