Islam Edit Bureau
the Role of Haia
Sabria S. Jawhar
Saudi Female Engineers
for Bernie Sanders
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
leaders focused their attention on possible scenarios that might emerge with
respect to terror networks vis-à-vis nuclear terrorism at an in-camera briefing
during the closing session of the nuclear security summit in Washington,
influential sources privy to the deliberations revealed that three potential
methods of unleashing nuclear or radiological terrorism were primarily
are, acquiring nuclear bomb for creating catastrophic destruction in populated
urban areas, setting off radiological dispersal device or dirty bomb — a lethal
weapon of mass destruction made of radioactive material attached to
conventional explosives and group of trained extremists sabotaging nuclear
facilities with insider assistance to release radioactive material over a wide
area of human habitation.
President Barack Obama rightly observed, madmen could kill or injure innocent
people using only plutonium the size of an apple especially when not all of the
2,000 tons of nuclear materials held at military and civilian facilities world
over are secure and may fall in wrong hands.
more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world presently, with over 90 percent
of them being kept at strategic locations in Russia and the United States and
Obama himself acknowledged that Washington and Moscow were unlikely to further
reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons any time soon. However, to be fair
to Obama, he remains the best bet for the world to achieve genuine denuclearization.
up the moral responsibility for launching a new era of nuclear disarmament
aimed at eliminating nuclear stockpiles. Indeed, the US president put flesh on
the bones of his praiseworthy vision with significant and specific policy
departures aimed at injecting nuclear disarmament with a momentum never seen
promised to downgrade the role ascribed to nuclear weapons in America’s
national security doctrines, pledged to enforce a global ban on nuclear weapons
testing by starting from his backyard in the form of pressing the US Senate to
ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty at the earliest, committed himself to
the cause of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation treaty — bedrock of a
global effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, preferred a new global
ban on the production of weapons-grade fissile materials and most significantly
promoted the idea of establishing an international fuel bank that would supply
and monitor enriched uranium for civil nuclear power generation thus avoiding
the risk of rogue states diverting material from peaceful to weapons programs.
is a hard fact that since the first nuclear summit held six years ago, the
world has measurably reduced the risk of nuclear terrorism by taking many concrete
and tangible steps, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s absence in Washington
may be a setback for the struggle that Obama has initiated for the sake of
future generations. Russia, in fact, houses the largest number of nuclear
weapons, 7,300 warheads to be precise compared to America’s 6,970. And without
Moscow’s active support, the momentum created by the shifting of 2,965
kilograms of civilian highly enriched uranium (HEU) — equivalent to 100 atomic
bombs — to safeguarded sites in the last six years will be lost midway.
Undoubtedly, Obama has at least opened the
door for a serious negotiation to reduce global stockpiles of nuclear warheads
with 98 percent of bomb-making materials remaining in opaque military
installations. As the US president rightly observed, the massive nuclear
arsenal maintained since the Cold War days is “poorly suited to today’s threat
perceptions” even as anti-nuclear proliferation watchdogs have reported laxity
in on-site physical protection and security during transport as well as chinks
in the ability to recover lost radioactive materials.
ushering positivity in nuclear risk reduction, the nuclear security summit,
which is Obama’s brainchild, has failed in its strategic goal of developing an
effective global nuclear security system. Unfortunately, since the last summit
in 2014, some nations have reportedly moved toward augmenting their nuclear
stockpiles. While Obama may be basking in the glory of 12 nations having
completely eliminated weapons grade HEU or separated plutonium, the steps have
been relatively minor in the backdrop of the mammoth risk posed by nuclear
weapons to humanity.
With the realistic threat of non-state actors
using deadly weapons looming over the horizon, there is an urgent need for
concerted action on two fronts — preventing a dirty bomb from falling in
extremists’ possession and securing atomic sites, both overt and clandestine,
from subversion. Experts have warned that much of the world’s HEU and plutonium
remains vulnerable to theft at thousands of sites, including universities and
It is a
warning sign especially for a country like India whose nuclear materials have
been found to be less than secure, as a recent Harvard University study has
exposed the vulnerability of Indian nuclear facilities citing an American
inspector assessment. With the whole of South America being free of nuclear
weapons presently and central Europe and Southeast Asia expected to achieve the
goal soon, hopefully the dream of a nuclear weapons-free planet will remain
afloat and guide us through difficult times.
recently passed regulations clearly defining the role of the Commission for the
Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia).
regulations broadly affects how the Haia operates in Saudi Arabia with a focus
on outlining its duties and where its responsibilities end and where other
agencies, such as security forces and local police, step in. By clearly
defining the role of Haia, the authorities want to prevent incidents involving
some Haia members who go beyond their limits and create problems for people —
Saudis and expatriates.
regulations effectively put an end to chasing and arresting individuals
suspected of committing moral violations. Now the Haia has to rely on local
police to conduct investigations and make arrests. New rules also stipulate
that commission members are not permitted to demand identification or detain
most important, the new regulations return the Haia to its original Islamic
purpose to “encourage virtue and forbid vice by kindly and gently advising as
carried out by Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, and his rightful successors,”
according to the Cabinet.
The Haia is
not exactly toothless now. It still has the authority to enforce gender
segregation rules, prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol and keep women
from driving cars. Social restrictions still apply and the commission is
permitted to enforce these rules.
new rules do, however, require that all members display their identification
cards with their names clearly legible and their jurisdiction of work. This
will help reduce the potential for rogue commission members or vigilantes from
enforcing their will on others.
should introduce strict hiring policy and avoid employing people with criminal
convictions. It is however heartening to note that the Haia recruits must
possess a Bachelor of Arts degree, which at least provides the commission with
educated members who have the critical thinking skills to use better judgment
in how to approach individuals suspected of committing a moral crime.
development is not really an overhaul of the commission, though this new
definition of duties was long overdue. The Haia has for too long been permitted
wide latitude in enforcing its own rules virtually independent of the
regulations hit the reset button by bringing back the Haia to the original
concept of teaching people in a gentle manner the proper way to conduct our
lives and the teachings of Islam through guidance not intimidation. Over the
decades, the commission had morphed into an agency unrecognizable to most
Saudis who support the concept of a Haia working in their communities.
support the Haia because none of us are perfect Muslims. By reining in the
excesses committed by some commission members and weeding out the bad apples,
the commission can take the new regulations as a positive step toward creating
a new era in helping Saudis and expats understand the role of Islam in their
lives. A new hiring process that identifies the extremists and the uneducated
will prevent those individuals from being hired and provide the public with a
more professional and more respected organization.
viewing the new regulations as an effort to clip the wings of the commission,
the Haia should respond by committing itself to a complete internal overhaul to
win the trust of the people it is supposed to protect. And by internal
overhaul, I mean going through the current ranks of commission members and
assessing their ability to carry out the job with the new regulations in mind.
should be no grandfather clause that protects existing employees with a
reputation for causing trouble and not following the spirit of the Haia’s role
female engineers pass out from our universities and colleges every year to join
their male counterparts in the labor market. But did we make any arrangement to
enable them and provide them with job opportunities?
continuing our discussion, let us have a look at the available data about
female engineers. Female engineers have already proved their mettle. Saudi
women engineers represent several consultative engineering offices in the Gulf
region, Lebanon and other countries. They compete very well in terms of
quality, skills and innovation. Many years ago, a Saudi woman engineer was
appointed to work in the diplomatic quarter project. She proved to be creative
but after completion of the project, she found herself unemployed and nobody
was prepared to hire her. In the Riyadh Metro project, there are many female
engineers working efficiently with their male counterparts.
me wonder why we let our girls join engineering colleges when we can’t find
jobs for them. Engineering is a specialized profession that depends on skill,
competence and creativity. Compared to men, women in general are more creative
in practical fields. But here they are marginalized and ignored.
that solving this problem is not complicated or impossible. What we need is
more organization and a timetable and to accommodate female engineers through a
special quota system. Then we should regulate admission to the universities in
accordance with the public sector’s requirements. We should also ensure that
the private sector recruits these female engineers in a way that safeguards
their dignity. To do this, I suggest the formation of an authority to be in
charge of following up appointment of the Saudi women engineers and terms of
contracts and market fluctuations.
authority could be composed of Saudi engineers or it could take the form of a
special department at the Labour Ministry. This authority could work out rules
and regulations for the recruitment mechanism to protect the Saudi women
engineers from pressures of the work management in the private sector. I know
that there are many educated Saudi girls in other specializations. They too
should be given the same protection and care.
overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world considers Iran a revisionist
state — a country that seeks to expand its influence in the Muslim world
regardless of the available means.
Iranian leaders don’t mind supporting terrorism to establish its hegemony in
the Middle East. As a matter of fact, this Iranian mindset is responsible for
most of the regional problems.
At the 13th
summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held recently in
Istanbul, Iran failed to get away with its policies in the region. Its attempt
to focus on unity among Muslims contradicts its actions in Syria, Lebanon,
Bahrain, Iran and Yemen. Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani did not have the moral
courage to speak the truth. “For everyone it is clear that for Saudi Arabia,
Iran is not the problem and for Iran, Saudi Arabia is not the problem,” said
he knows better than that. For Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabs
countries, Iran is the most salient source of threat. Just a few months ago,
Riyadh cut its diplomatic relations with Tehran in a protest to Iranians
setting fire to the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran.
militias as well as Iranian forces are fighting the Syrian people for almost
five years. And President Rouhani is in denial. It is not as if the rest of the
Muslim world is not paying attention to Iran’s destabilizing policies in the
Arab world. The OIC harshly criticized Iran as the latter “continued support
for terrorism.” The Conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal
affairs of the states of the region and other member states including Bahrain,
Yemen, Syria and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism,” the OIC
said in its final communiqué.
nations’ condemnation of Iran and the failure of the latter to change the final
communiqué show beyond doubt that no amount of diplomacy can change reality.
can talk nicely as much as they want, but people of our region will only look
at their deeds. Seen in this way, anti-Iran feelings in the region have to do
with what Iran does. Of course, Iran can change that by changing its policies
and stop meddling in the internal affairs of the Arab world.
leaders mistakenly believe that by issuing harsh statements against Israel it
could hoodwink the Arab world. The Arabs will no longer fall prey to this
tactic and will not turn a blind eye to Iranian actions in the region.
many in the Arab world consider Iran a bigger threat than Israel for two
reasons. First, unlike Israel, Iran is a Muslim country and can infiltrate into
the Muslim societies under the banner of religion easily. Israel cannot do that
and it is not difficult to rally the public opinion against Israel. Second,
while Israel does not have a militia fighting for its interests, Iranian
expansionist interests are being served by Hezbollah and by its puppet militias
in the Arab countries.
neither Saudi Arabia nor other Muslim nations seek to provoke Iran. To them,
Iran’s polices are the problem. Iran can easily bring about a rapprochement
with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries by doing two things: By
withdrawing its militias from hotspots in the region and by not interfering in
the internal affairs of its neighbours. Iran’s failure to improve its image by
relying on diplomacy should send a clear message to Iranian leaders that the
days of deception are over.
following with great interest the recently concluded Islamic Summit in Turkey.
Some of the
scenes at the summit greatly intrigued me and I recalled the old saying, “A
picture is worth a thousand words” and also the words of the legendary Iraqi
philosopher, Al Nefri, who once said that one cannot totally describe a wide
vision in a narrowed phrase.
Well, I am
talking about the picture of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the group
photo of the Islamic Summit participants where he is seen standing in a corner
with his head bowed among the “secondary” Islamic countries, a corner place, I
am sure, the Turkish protocol must have assigned to him! His picture clearly
reflects the current position of Iran among the Islamic countries.
state Iran does not deserve to be in the lead among the Islamic countries and
so the final statement at the Islamic Summit was a resounding slap on Iran’s
face. The summit visibly condemned Iran’s open and continual interference in
the internal affairs of the Arab countries, which is an explicit threat to Arab
the sectarian revolution, fuels the region with waves of tireless and
unrelenting sectarian strife and has even become the source of an explicit
threat for all Arab countries. This has forced the Arab countries to classify
Iran’s allies and militias as terrorist groups.
in the head of Iran’s leadership after the exit of the “foolish” former Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who openly expressed his sectarian views and
portrayed himself as an extremist, did not work after the arrival of “smiley
face” President Hassan Rouhani, together with his ‘smart’ Foreign Minister
Zarif (‘zarif’ in Arabic language means ‘smart’).
been no significant change in Iranian politics, the picture of Iran looks renovated
but their policy remains unchanged.
successive losses at the political and diplomatic level cannot be overlooked.
They have completely dropped the resistance mask and are no longer the same.
Their consensus and coordination with goals of Russia and Israel to support the
regime of Bashar Al Assad in Syria, as well as approval “in cooperation with
the United States and “new understanding” with the West reveals they are in
need of new tactics to persuade the herd in the region for its role in the new
picture of President Hassan Rouhani at the summit with the leaders of the
Islamic world is a reflection of the image of Iran itself and the dubious and
ugly role it plays in the region. That picture is enough to describe Iran in a
Iran is an
Islamic state but hostile. This is a new classification!
By 17 Apr
dramatic debate between Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn
on April 14, in anticipation of the New York primaries on April 19,
notwithstanding, the national conversations about the US presidential campaign
has become positively predictable, if not punishingly boring - except for the
grassroots mobilisation it has triggered and that may one day change the shape
of politics in this country.
think of the possibility of "democracy" in the US exactly the way
Gandhi is reported to have thought of "Western Civilization": It
would be a great idea.
Republican front, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are clean-shaven prehistoric cave
dwellers in business suits, while Hillary Clinton on the Democratic front is
the dictionary definition of a chameleon - like a corrupt politician changing
colour depending on which way the political wind blows but consistently
representing mega-donors, big banks, and Super PACs without any moral scruples,
while feigning she cares about the poor and the disenfranchised.
of Decent Americans
In this presidential
campaign, Bernie Sanders is the closest candidate to the aspirations of
millions of decent Americans dreaming of a better future for their children
while refusing to lend their name to an imperial republic that systematically
arms the rich tyrants around the world, supports Israel stealing Palestine and
murdering Palestinians one settlement at a time, and helps to create
monstrosities like ISIL.
19 New York primary, like millions of other New Yorkers, I intend to exercise
my very fragile rights as a US citizen and go and vote for Bernie Sanders,
doing my share and hoping he will beat Clinton and win the Democratic
Muslims would have sided with and voted for Bernie Sanders even if he were not
I do so
without any illusion that Bernie Sanders can alter the imperial DNA of this
country, or that I am particularly enamoured by this liberal Zionist beating on
the dead horse of a "two-state" delusion.
I intend to
vote for Bernie Sanders conscious of a crucial development in the US Muslim
community. This year is the first time that I will vote in a presidential
election conscious of being a Muslim and that consciousness is a significant
event in the make-up of the US Muslim community at a time of intense
I will not
be the first nor the only Muslim voting for Sanders in the US. The fact that US
Muslims are significantly siding with Senator Sanders has already made major
headlines in the US.
in fact, an entire Facebook page dedicated to "Muslims for Bernie Sanders
2016". Leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals like Zareena Grewal and
Donna Auston have also written eloquently as to "Why Muslim Americans
should vote for Bernie Sanders".
indicate that "in less than three weeks, Bernie Sanders being a friend of
the Arab and Muslim American communities, has become legendary, and the support
from this community of Sanders voters has been growing online since his March 8
victory in Michigan".
significance of US Muslims rallying behind Sanders as "the only Jewish
candidate" should neither be exaggerated nor misinterpreted. This is a
crucial development, but we need to know why.
this vote signifies the rise of Muslims as a self-conscious, engaged, and
assertive community with pronounced political views. To be sure, this does not
mean all Muslims are for Sanders. There are plenty of rich and powerful Muslims
of all sorts, no doubt, rooting for Hillary Clinton or even voting Republican.
The very idea of a "Muslim vote" is as flawed and misleading as that
of "the Jewish vote", or "Christian vote".
Making of A Muslim Community
Muslims would have sided with and voted for Bernie Sanders even if he were not
Jewish. That he is a proud and progressive Jew from a poor immigrant background
links him to the deepest layers of Jewish prophetic voices throughout the ages
as well as to the Jewish intellectuals and activists vastly involved with the
Civil Rights Movement in the US as he, in fact, exemplifies - a particularly
proud moment for Jewish Americans that Muslims must learn and update.
formation of this crucial political consciousness signals a historic formation
that could and should bring Muslims into the forefront of a national awakening
in active alliance with such crucial segments of US society as the budding
Jewish liberation theology of a post-Zionist era, the Occupy Wall Street
uprising, the Black Lives Matter movement, and even the nascent Democracy
a significant catalyst in this historic moment, bringing significant layers of
political consciousness in the US to the forefront of the US presidential
election. His supporters are putting up a heroic effort to promote their
preferred presidential candidate. These forces, however, must begin to think of
the day after a dreadful Clinton nomination, and what would happen to the
significant momentum that Sanders' campaign has generated.
formation of that momentum, I believe, Muslims have a significant role to play,
not just as Muslims, but more importantly as a momentous gathering integral to
progressive fronts joining ranks with equally committed segments of society
determined to change the landscape of US politics with wide-ranging global