Terror Attack Thwarted at Mecca’s Grand Mosque

Mecca

Mecca – Saudi authorities thwarted on Friday a terrorist attack against Mecca’s Grand Mosque, its Umrah pilgrims and worshipers, on the last night of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Security forces had surrounded a would-be suicide bomber only kilometers away from the mosque “where he was to carry out his terrorist attack,” said a security source.

The security forces also raided two other locations, arresting five suspects, including a woman.

A spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, Mansour al-Turki, announced that the terrorist group was stationed in two areas in Mecca. The first was situated in al-Asaila neighborhood and the other in al-Masafy neighborhood, which is near the central area of the Grand Mosque. A third group was located in the Jeddah district.

The suicide bomber was staying at a three-storey house in the Ajyad neighborhood.

He opened fire at the security forces as soon as he became surrounded by them, prompting them to retaliate by shooting back after he refused to comply with their demands for him to turn himself in, said Turki.

The suspect continued on shooting before he blew himself up, which resulted in the collapse of the building. Six pilgrims were wounded in the blast, as well as five security forces members, who suffered light wounds.

The Interior Ministry spokesman added that the security agencies are still carrying out their investigations into the attack.

The Ministry condemned the terrorist plot, saying: “Through the grace of God and the unprecedented support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, it will be capable of confronting these criminal plans and all those involved in them.”

Asharq Al-Awsat obtained information from informed sources that the terrorists had rented the three-storey house during Ramadan. They kept to themselves and limited their movements to an extent that their neighbors hardly knew that they were there.

Umrah Pilgrims Increase Rate of Makkah Hotel Occupancy Last Days of Ramadan

Muslim pilgrims cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan, during the annual Haj pilgrimage on Eid al-Adha in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, October 5, 2014.

Makkah- Pilgrims coming to Makkah for the last ten days of Ramadan have revived hotels in the central area of the Holy site and the adjacent areas, where the occupancy of hotel rooms increased more than 90 percent, according to the expectations of dealers in this sector.

The hotels in Makkah have witnessed this Umrah season events that caused fluctuations in their rates of occupancy as a result of the delayed arrival of Umrah performers from some countries, leading to a low purchase power in hotels in Makkah and Medinah.

Chairman of the Kingdom’s National Committee for Hajj and Umrah Marwan Shaaban said that this year is exceptional in regards to the occupancy of hotels due to the harsh circumstances many Arab and Islamic countries are facing.

“For example, Egyptian Umrah pilgrims are usually considered one of the largest segments of the Umrah performers compared to other Islamic countries. The delay of their arrival this year affected the occupancy process of hotels in Makkah and Medinah, in addition to their economic conditions and the Egpyt Pound’s fall against the Saudi Riyal led to their low demand on the hotels they used to check in before as they now opt for less expensive hotels that far from the central area.”

As for the Turkish Umrah performers, Shaaban said, “their currency also fell, thus their arrival to Makkah this yeas is much less compared to previous years. Likewise, the currency in Indonesia has fallen by 60 percent, so all these factors led to the fluctuation of hotel work in the Umrah season this year.”

As for the solutions taken by the hotels to save their season, the head of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah said: “There were some solutions taken by some hotels that succeeded in attracting Umrah and foreign touristic companies. They reduced their prices and provided Umrah pilgrims with extra free nights. Some hotels put free touristic programs for Umrah performers, and these features were welcomed by customers of these hotels.”

MWL Conference Concludes Its International Conference for Intellectual Trends

Muslim Scholars at the conference

Makkah – The International Conference for Intellectual Trends between Freedom of Expression and Sharia Law asked Muslims to respect the link between religion and co-existence. It also criminalized spreading sectarianism.

The conference, which was held in Makkah and organized by the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League (MWL), concluded the conference by issuing a closing statement of 11 articles valuing the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques speech and considering it a significant document for the conference.

The conference urged the Council in its closing statement to prepare a project on Sharia laws and regulations in contemporary intellectual trends and review it in the next meeting to be considered as a guideline for Islamic organizations around the world.

The statement also called on Muslims around the world to support and encourage the unity of Islam by acting according to the real Islamic values. These real values, which we learned from Prophet Muhammad, taught us that there are no different kinds of Islam and all Muslims are equals.

The conference stressed that Muslims should not be weakened by minor differences.

It also reiterated the importance of standing against media outlets that create and promote hatred and strife between Muslims themselves and with other religions.

In addition, the conference stated that sect or Fiqh schools are part of Islam but are not a substitute for the uniting religion. It added that it is unacceptable to argue with scholars who are committed to the righteous path of the Prophet.

The statement warned scholars to be taken by appearances of misbehaviors, and urged them to consider the goodwill of others before judging. It added that convictions can’t be forced but rather persuaded through containment and dialogue.

Countering terrorism and combating extremism were of the most important items confirmed in the closing statement of the international conference.

Terrorism and extremism were likened to an “infectious disease” that is fueled by ignorance and absence of the true Islamic beliefs which terrorist and extremist individuals and groups exploit to pass on their “poisons”.

The conference also praised the respect Islamic communities receive in non-Islamic countries given that the laws and cultures of those countries protect freedom of religion or belief. It urged Muslims to respect all laws, asking those who can’t conform to leave the countries without violating rules or tarnishing Islam.

King Salman: We are Keen to Provide an Example for Protecting Rights, Legitimate Freedoms

Saudi

Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz confirmed Saudi Arabia’s keenness to provide an example for protecting the rights and legitimate freedoms, and achieving prosperity and comprehensive social development, in accordance with Islamic Sharia, all the while preserving the social security and enhancing confidence in our religion and between the citizen and government officials.

King Salman’s statement came in a speech delivered on his behalf by Prince Khalid al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of Makkah Region, at the opening ceremony of the international conference on intellectual orientations between speech freedom and Sharia fundamentals, hosted by Muslim World League (MWL).

At the conference titled “Intellectual trends between freedom of expression and Shariah regulations,” Prince Khalid said that freedom of expression is an integral part of the overall freedoms and it is granted in Islam, which says that Allah created all humans free.

Prince Khalid said that, as per the holy Quran, humans are free to have their blood, money and honor preserved and remain free except from worshipping God Almighty.

He said the Islamic Fiqh Assembly reaffirmed, at its 9th session eight years ago, that expressing opinion is protected in Islam in line with Shariah, including that serves the interests of Muslims.

Prince Khalid added that expression of opinion should not involve attacks on religion, its rituals or sacred places, and should show commitment to honesty, integrity and impartiality, adding that one’s opinion should work to protect the interests and values of the community, and not be detrimental to public order or lead to discord between Muslims.

At the same time, opinion should be formed based on reliable sources and people should not promote rumors, he stated.

“We have recently seen many controversies about freedom of expression, especially on social media, which have no controls, but we strongly believe in the capacity of Islamic Shariah to protecting rights and freedoms,” he said, adding that the Kingdom is keen to be an example of a country that protects human rights.

The prince said that the conference is hoped to shed light on the important issues that correct any misinterpretation about the Islamic religion that may have been formed due to misinformation or an impulse.

Prince Khalid said media should be a tool of good that spreads spiritual values and humanity; they should be responsible and aware of the danger pose by the publication of items harmful to religious values or leading to discord.

He added that according to Article 39 of the Saudi law: “mass media, publication facilities and other means of expression shall function in a manner that is courteous and fair and shall abide by State laws. They shall play their part in educating the masses and boosting national unity.

All that may give rise to mischief and discord, or may compromise the security of the State and its public image, or may offend against man’s dignity and rights shall be banned. Relevant regulations shall explain how this is to be done.”

Secretary General of the Islamic Fiqh Assembly Salih al-Marzouqi said Islam is a basic pillar in building correct human relations, and that it is responsible for the establishment of justice, respect, security and development.

He said that since the establishment of Saudi Arabia, it had adopted the causes of Islam and Muslims and its kings stood against deviant thoughts that undermine some Arab and Muslim countries.

Since its establishment, the Islamic Fiqh Assembly had held 22 sessions with over 130 resolutions about religion and creed, and other economic, social and medical aspects. He also said that the assembly will hold two sessions in Europe this year. In addition, the assembly issued a number of recommendations and resolutions, including those trying to equate Islam with terrorism or Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia.

The event was also addressed by MWL Secretary General Mohammed Abdulkarim al-Eisa, who said that personal freedom, which emerged in the social development in the West, is strongly respected the Muslim world.

He added that there have been exaggerated demands to allow people to say or behave whatever way they want, even if not conforming to Islamic teachings.

Also during the conference, Grand Mufti of Saudi Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Sheikh said that Islam is a religion to guide people to the right path. He said the Quraan tackles all issues related to life, faith, God and eternity. He also added that in this Holy book, one can find all rules that govern the life of humans, and how they should deal with one other.