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Saudi Recently-Released Cleric Slams Muslim Brotherhood, Democracy, Copts
Monday, December 31, 2012

Saudi sheikh Sulayman al-Ulwan

Report by Abdallah Al Haydah, from Riyadh: “Saudi Cleric Judges Egypt`s Constitution as `Infidel` and Criticizes Mursi`s Dealing with the Copts”

A recently released Saudi cleric has judged President Mursi to be an unbeliever of Shari`ah because of his killing of Muslim Brotherhood members in Sinai, in addition to his great convergence with the Copts, whom the cleric considers to be corrupters on earth, and the fact that the Egyptian Constitution is part of the rule of idol.

A Saudi cleric has become hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood in his country and in Egypt, as he judged Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi to be “unbeliever of Shari`ah” because of the Constitution, which does not apply the Shari`ah, as he says, and also because he has caused the killing of the Muslim Brotherhood members in Sinai.

In an audio recording attributed to him, Cleric Sulayman al-Ulwan says that the foundation of ruling is “believing in God, and unbelieving in idol.” Al-Ulwan, who has a large mass presence and many sympathizers, considers: “Anyone who calls for democracy does not have any concern for or will to implement Islam.”

In his recording, which was made at a religious seminar packed with questions about democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ulwan uses in evidence Islamist pronouncements and quotations by those whom he calls “ulema” affiliated to the religious tendency, but who are according to his viewpoint non-activists, including Ibn-Taymiyah and Muhammad Bin-Abd-al-Wahhab.

Al-Ulwan also criticizes the Egyptian president`s dealing with the Copts. Al-Ulwan explains that Mursi would better have followed the example of Umar Bin-al-Khattab during the era of Islamic Caliphate when he imposed Jizyah (tax imposed on non-Muslims living under Muslim rule) on the Copts.

Al-Ulwan, who has returned to his religious rostrum and followers, has said within the context of words with some sharpness and firmness that the Copts are “corrupters on earth,” and that the ruler ought to “impose humiliation and degradation on them.” Al-Ulwan considers that such acquiescence (to the Copts) is part of the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This leaked religious lecture has caused reverberations among the ranks and spectra of those affiliated to the religious tendency, especially those activists of and sympathizers to the Muslim Brotherhood Organization, despite their standing by Sulayman al-Ulwan during his period of imprisonment, which continued for nine years.

The recording of Al-Ulwan`s religious lecture took place only a few weeks after his release, which was championed by his followers and sympathizers among Salafis, Muslim Brotherhood members, and some human rights activists.

The release of Al-Ulwan has stormed many sites. A number of controversial clerics consider this release as a great victory and support for the good. These clerics include Saudi controversial Cleric Muhammad al-Urayfi, who said: “We have been pleased by the news of the release of Sheikh Sulayman al-Ulwan, may God release all detainees, and reward those who pursue this. I have sat with Al-Ulwan and engaged in dialog with him, and I testify that he is one of the ulema of our times, and honoring him is a protection of the right of ulema, a gain for scholars, and a consolidation of national cohesion.”

Al-Ulwan has some old fatwas and opinions that have caused reverberations and have been criticized by a number of clerics. These opinions include the “cleanliness of alcoholic drinks.” Al-Ulwan explains that there is no evidence on its uncleanliness. Al-Ulwan gives the opinion that “The origin is that water is clean until there is evidence to the contrary.” Al-Ulwan stresses that its cleanliness goes back to (Ibn-) Sirin and Al-Layth Bin-Sa`d, and many of those after them have opted for this, which is true and is the origin, and “should not be abandoned without evidence.”

(Description of Source: London in Arabic -- Saudi-owned, independent Internet daily with pan-Arab, liberal line. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Saudi Commentary: Muslim Brotherhood Rule Forced Gulf To Renounce Chaos
Arab News Online
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Commentary by Ali Bluwi: “Stability And Security First”

Those who think that the Gulf states are not aware of their people`s aspirations cannot be more wrong. And those who cannot see realities on the ground -- such as economic, social, and cultural changes -- are committing another mistake too. A quick look reveals the key changes are ubiquitous. For instance, the number of TV satellite stations has mushroomed, many world-class universities have come up and new ideas have spread. If anything, this has broadened the vision of the citizens and officials alike.

Nonetheless, it is the way Muslim Brotherhood has run things in both Egypt and Tunisia that has forced Arabs in the Gulf countries to renounce chaos and to think of reforms within the system as the best way forward. For this reason, some of the Gulf countries are geared up to present a package of political reforms such as parliamentary elections, increasing the representation of people, transparency in financial institutions and increasing the scope of freedom of expression.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah`s speech addressing the leaders of the GCC in the recently held summit in Manama, Bahrain, was very transparent. King Abdullah admitted that the accomplishments that had been realized are suboptimal and do not meet the aspirations and ambitions of people. The brief message was eloquent and had some political connotations.

The big ambitions include huge economic capabilities, stability, qualitative education, socioeconomic unity, and common defense system. At the Gulf level, observers see that the external pressure -- whether in public and in private -- will not yield any benefit to speak of. There is a rejection of any interference in internal affairs.

The common view is that reforms can only take root if they come from within. This is the only way where societies can agree on interim agreements to develop the system in such a way that could protect the economies form collapse and anarchy.

At the Saudi level, there is a social awareness that the country is witnessing reforms that are consistent with the need of the country. Some even goes far to say that the regime is considering election for the Shoura Council. The king himself said previously that the state had the intention to empower women to be active in the Shoura Council. This move, if it materializes, is a smart political step that will help break the monopoly of the conservative view that still rejects any political presence for Saudi women. This step was mooted after a series of calculated moves to keep the conservative view at bay which is also reflected in the appointment of Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh as president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Al-Asheikh is well known for his moderation and tolerance. He rejects extremism regardless of its nature. His policy was clear from the get-go when he restructured the commission and purged the extremists by introducing more institutionalization and internal accountability. This measure brought back the commission to its original educational objectives. There were those who tried to impede the work of the commission but its head succeeded in his new job.

Saudi Arabia as well as the rest of the Gulf states realize that the rearrangement of the internal house is a source of strength which can help face any external challenge. Also, these countries see that economic and social development and spreading education would pave the way for new social transformations. First and foremost, it will wipe out violence, extremism and terrorism. Furthermore, these countries think that the speed of technology and management of small businesses will contribute in realizing security and internal stability. It also helps qualify the society to move from the traditional authority to the rational and legal authority. It seems that the Gulf societies have learned the lessons of other countries. In 1960s and 1970s, these countries shunned away all contending ideologies and instead set up some independent, intellectual and cultural project s. This has produced more realistic elite to deal with the other. These countries were vindicated when the USSR collapsed and the communists transformed into some orphans begging for foreign fund. Today, Saudi Arabia is on the verge of a new era that will lead to a new social and political contract based on realities on the ground.

Just a few days ago, I read some odd analysis in some Western press that tried to stir some security misgivings in the region. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia and the rest countries in the Gulf region have their own reform plans that suit their internal need. In Saudi Arabia, there is no dearth of literary works and intellectual elites. There are some 18 literary clubs. The administrations of these clubs are elected directly by members. The intention is there to restore some civil practices in university administrations too. Needless to say, there are some human rights and consumer rights associations in the country too. Additionally, people are put on trial publicly and the level of criticism and freedom of expression is high in the Saudi press.

When Jeffrey Feltman said that the Gulf countries will face real challenges if they do not expedite the reform process, he is totally wrong. Indeed, Saudis -- Shiites or Sunnis - are aware of these challenges despite the futile attempts on the part of Iran to interfere. The Shiites in Saudi Arabia are loyal citizens and they will strongly defend their country to the extent that pushes others to do some recalculations. That said, there are some calls for reform as evident in the daily newspapers in the country. These articles call for revising policies, reconstruction, and economic challenges such as unemployment, housing and reinforcing the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

As far as the sources of external threats are concerned, the Gulf countries are conducting themselves wisely. They are aware of the Iranian role and Tehran`s interests in destabilizing the region, and yet, they act swiftly and wisely. Not only the Gulf countries ceased to support the Iranian revolution but also they no longer take the Iranian threat seriously.

Interestingly, the mere announcement of Gulf support for the conference of friends of Iranian people enraged Tehran and made it feel vulnerable. The internal weakness is evident and Iran has always created troubles externally to stifle internal pressure. Iran does not pose a genuine threat to the Arab region despite of what has been taking place in Iraq. Iran is begging the Kurds of Iraq to keep Al-Maliki in power and is trying to control the Shiite politics. And yet, the south of Iraq is rejecting Iran and is trying to emasculate Iran especially after they discovered that Iran stood behind much of the acts that targeted people and shrines.

Just a few years ago, we had a meeting in Damascus with some experts and politicians and they told us that some of them refused to have a relationship with Tehran. It is obvious that Iran deals with Syrian as if the latter is a satellite state for the former. Take Bahrain for instance, a heavy weight Shiite intellectual said that the Shiites are Arabs and therefore they refused to be outpost for Iran. He argued that the Shiites, on the whole, were against Iranian intervention in Bahrain. He also mentioned that the percentage of those who identify with Iran among the Shiites does not exceed 5 percent. Nonetheless, they were for citizenship and freedom and definitely against Iranian project in the region.

Yemen was present in the Gulf summit. The vision of the Gulf states was obvious and they supported legitimacy of Yemen and urged it to implement the Gulf`s initiatives. They also supported the restoration of all institutions hijacked by individuals. It also affirmed its support for stability in Yemen, its fight against Al-Qa`ida and rejection of any regional interference in the Yemeni affairs.

It should be noted that Yemen is in its way out from the tunnel toward stability. Also the unity of Yemen is cemented through reinforcin g the state of law, institutions, fighting corruption and building an interim plan to fight poverty and unemployment. This is very important as Yemen is overseeing a very important strategic waterway and therefore Yemen deserves the support of the international community to safeguard the security and stability of the routes for energy and the world economy.

(Description of Source: Jedda Arab News Online in English -- Website of Saudi English-language daily; part of the Saudi Research and Publishing Group which owns Al-Sharq al-Awsat. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Prominent Saudi Writer Warns of `Danger` of Muslim Brotherhood `Kidnap` of Egypt
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Monday, December 17, 2012

Saad Al-Katatny (C), a Muslim Brotherhood`s senior member, waves after being nominated by the Freedom and Justice Party for the post of the Parliament Speaker, during the first Egyptian parliament session after the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo January 23, 2012. REUTERS

Article by former chief editor Tariq al-Humayd: “The region caught between two guides”

Our region has passed through the phase of the Shiite crescent, and likewise the Muslim Brotherhood crescent, and now we have entered the phase of the “guides”. Those who understand this best in our region now are the civil forces of both Egypt and Tunisia, through their respective experiences there, and thus we see their strong opposition to anyone seeking to hijack the path of both countries.

I listened recently to an important, informed source explaining that the danger of this new phase would become a reality if the Brotherhood`s constitution is ratified Egypt. This would mean that the Brotherhood would have successfully kidnapped the Egyptian state and its institutions, in a move that would have a huge impact on the Egyptians, the region, and the expected course of both. The Brotherhood would then seek not only to strengthen their position in Egypt and monopolize power for the next three decades, but would also seek to impose their control over the entire region through universalizing their project. The Brotherhood`s stated project talks about an Islamic caliphate, along the lines of what the Khomeinists in Iran did and are still trying to do, in terms of exporting the revolution there. Therefore the whole region would soon be orientated between a guide in Cairo and a guide in Qom, i.e. one for the Sunnis and one for the Shiites.

If the entire region were to be divided between two guides, one in Cairo and one in Qom, this would simply mean the abolition of the concept of the state. The entire Sunni community would then be subjected to the concept of the Wali al-Faqih, a concept which is strongly opposed even from within the Shia community. Then the region would enter into unprecedentedly complex religious and political conflicts, and this would also have an impact upon Muslims in Europe and Asia. Here it is important to share what I heard from another high-level source: Whenever the West used to discuss the Muslim Brotherhood`s project in the region the debate used to hinge on the Brotherhood pledging its commitment to democracy and having no qualms about allowing tourists to visit the country, even if they wore swimwear on beach resorts. Thus the West was largely preoccupied with superficial matters. Yet after the Brotherhood`s coup in Egypt the West was shocked, and this was confirmed to me by a senior European official, who said there was now huge disappointment towards what the Brotherhood has done in Egypt. Yes the West, and specifically Europe, was shocked by what the Brotherhood did in Egypt, and the biggest shock of all was the sight of Sheikh al-Qaradawi preaching in al-Azhar. Now the West understands that the Brotherhood wants to control al-Azhar, thus reducing any chances for moderation in the foreseeable future whether in Egypt or the region as a whole.

Now the West, and before them a broad spectrum of Egyptians and Tunisians, have begun to sense the danger of the coming days: In the Arab world, the political forces once deceived by the Brotherhood have realized that Egypt is following in the footsteps of Iran. In the West, some institutions have begun to sense the danger of the Brotherhood`s intellectual dominance over the region, because they, i.e. those in the West, understand that the Middle East is just around the corner from being divided between two guides, one in Cairo and one in Qom. This poses a major danger to the region, whereby religious and sectarian conflicts could erupt, and it also poses a major danger to the ideological or religious model of every country in the region, not to mention the fact that it would destroy the concept of the state first and foremost. Those who have studied the Iranian example will know exactly what awaits the region as a whole, where we will all be stuck between a guide in Cairo and a guide in Qom!

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in English -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance; URL: )

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Saudi-Owned Daily Writer Compares Salafi, Muslim Brotherhood Ideology
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Friday, September 28, 2012

Tunisian Salafists shout slogans claiming an Islamic state as they stage a demonstration on March 25, 2012 in Tunis. Thousands of Tunisians salafists gathered in Bourguiba Avenue to request the application of Islamic law in the new constitution. GETTY

Article by Abd-al-Rahman al-Rashid: “Are the Salafis the bad guys?”

More often than not, whenever a terrible act is committed in our region the Salafis are accused. Even before a single bullet was fired from the Syrian opposition, President al-Assad had attributed heinous crimes of slaughter and destruction to them, and claimed that it was the work of Salafis affiliated with Saudi Arabia and the West!

Prior to the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the voices of young revolutionaries in Egypt accused the Salafis of supporting Mubarak and the West, but then their ranks were blamed for the attack on the US Embassy.

In Tunisia, Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Ennahda movement, has previously praised the Salafis but has since begun to criticize them. Now he is calling on confronting them by force, with the former security forces of ousted President Ben Ali - now the forces of the Ennahda movement - pursuing them and surrounded their mosques, headquarters and leaders under the pretext that they were the ones who attacked the vicinity of the American Embassy and two American schools. In Libya, the Salafis face an even greater predicament having been expelled from the city of Benghazi with their political headquarters burned down, after being accused of the attack on the US Consulate and the killing of the US Ambassador.

Of course, there are many other serious events I could mention, such as the attack carried out by Salafi jihadist groups on Egyptian forces in Sinai, who then crossed the border with Israel and killed a soldier there. So are the Salafis actually the bad guys, and the Muslim Brotherhood the good guys?

Before we come to that, who exactly are the Salafis?

In my opinion, such terminology and names no longer really express the truth of the matter. The Salafis now represent the raw state of the Muslim Brotherhood; they are not like the old, traditional Salafis known for their hardline stances on social issues such as women`s clothing, beard shaving, the length of a man`s thobe, music and so on. The traditional Salafi did not have an opinion politically speaking, because they believed in the Wali al-Amr, i.e. absolute obedience to the governor or the state, who, as long as they did not prevent the application of God`s law, were responsible for the management of political affairs. This notion is now almost extinct. As for the new Salafis, they are the Brotherhood in its rudimentary form, i.e. they are the hardliners. The notions of Salafism and the Muslim Brotherhood have been intermingled in Afghanistan, and hence today we see the emergence of what are called the “Salafi jihadists” - militant religious groups, like the traditional Salafis, but with a political project, like the Muslim Brotherhood.

My opinion is that there is no such thing as an “Islamist” who is politically engaged or ascribes to a political ideology from the outset. Rather, what happens is that they encounter the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood and slowly become more politically active under its influence, participating with money, votes or in person. Therefore I think it is perhaps partly correct to label extremist groups with terms such as political or jihadist Salafi, but the fact is that they are all Muslim Brotherhood entities in a rudimentary phase. After such groups mature ideologically, they will be labeled as Brotherhood affiliates or offshoots. In my opinion, this raw state is the most dangerous phase, even more so when the Muslim Brotherhood was an underground movement working outside of the spotlight. Now however, operating in broad daylight, the Brotherhood is a political party exercising its right in a legitimate manner like any other party. Of course, this theory is still doubted by many, and perhaps it is too early to confirm or disprove it until we see the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood over the next three years.

All Islamists are affiliated with the Brotherhood in some respect, whether they go by the name “Freedom and Justice”, “Salafis”, the “Ennahda movement” or even “al-Qaeda”. However, there are differing degrees within the Brotherhood, from the moderates such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh to the extremists such as Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Salafis in the Gulf have criticized the Muslim Brotherhood in order to distance themselves from them or in order to side with the traditional Salafis. Yet in the end, all of them are affiliated politically, and they all suffer the defect of those who resort to arms, denounce others as infidels - which can be even more dangerous, or exploit their position in the pulpit. Because of this, many demand a separation between men of religion and men of politics.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in English -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance; URL: )

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


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