New Age Islam Edit Bureau
18 November 2016
Why Saudi Arabia Needs Movie Theatres
By Sara Al-Akkash
Is The Far Right Rearing Its Head In Australia?
By Talal Yassine
What Does The Arrival Of Trump Mean
By Khaled M. Batarfi
How Europe's Far-Right Feasts On Trump's
By Rachel Shabi
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Nov 18, 2016
HAVING movie theatres in the Kingdom
continues to be a highly debated topic, especially in religious and social
circles. Members of the first group believe that art, especially cinema, is a
satanic thing. They also believe it will brainwash Saudis and destroy their
culture and society. The second group believes that cinema is important because
it is a tool that helps people express their opinions and influences social
behavior. Cinemas help end the problem of loitering on streets and in malls and
allow young Saudi men to spend their time constructively by watching movies.
Many young Saudi men travel to nearby countries just to watch movies.
Personally speaking, I do not know why the
first group believes that cinema will bring vice and corruption to society when
in fact they are merely theatres where movies are shown. In other words, they
are similar to TVs.
Today, Saudis can watch an extensive
variety of Arabic and Western movies while sitting at home in front of their TV
sets thanks to satellite channels. Nobody is calling for a ban on these
channels. So why are some people scared and why do they not want the Kingdom to
have movie theatres? Why are people allowed to watch films in homes but not in
The concerned authorities can monitor and
control movie theatres should we decide to have them. We need to establish
rules for the types of movies that can be shown in such theatres. The Ministry
of Culture and Information can play a role in the monitoring process. For
example, the scenes that are not permitted can be cut. The well-known Saudi
writer Dr. Abdullah Sadiq Dahlan said that having movie theatres in the country
would promote Saudi culture, help the youth adopt moderate Islamic ideologies
and solve many of our complicated social issues.
Some think that perhaps it is not suitable
to talk about entertainment while the country is going through a tough period.
I believe that this is the right time to have movie theatres for two reasons:
entertainment can play a big role in helping people vent negative feelings and
energy and become more accepting of others. They would help boost the economy
and contribute to achieving some of the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.
November 17, 2016
Pauline Hanson's political diatribe finds
many similarities with Trump
Any commentary on the 2016 election in
America can't be explored without the lingering artifacts of surprise. Surprise
that despite all the racist, sexist, demeaning things that Trump said, he went
on to win the presidential election in the US.
Australia hasn't been without its political
challenges as well. In particular, 2016 saw the resurrection of the political
career of one Pauline Hanson. In the run up to Australia's 2016 election, she
served up sound bite after misguided sound bite to the media, just like Trump.
Many might suggest that Hanson is Australia's answer to Trump; but while her
policies are problematic, it's not fair to compare the two. For a start, unlike
Trump I've never heard Pauline state that it is her right as a powerful public
figure to grope people.
However, the biggest difference is not
about policies or how their abhorrent statements can somehow gain traction on
both sides of the globe. The difference is that nearly half the American
electorate vote for Trump. Back in Australia during the July election, only 4
per cent thought Hanson was the one Australia needed. Statistically speaking,
that's not a lot of people. Particularly if we factor that 96 per cent of the
compulsory Australian vote went to literally others on the voting form.
Twenty years ago, Hanson campaigned on a
platform that was fundamentally based on immigration. Specifically the problems
she saw with the levels of people coming to Australia from Asian countries. She
regularly used the terms "we will be swamped by Asians" and claimed
that she wanted to "take our country back". Sounds familiar, doesn't
it? Exchange the word "Asians" for "Mexicans" and one must
seriously consider whether her old speechwriter ditched her for a lucrative
deal writing for The Donald.
In 2016 Australia there has been no
swamping by Asians, or anyone else for that matter. So, like someone who
predicts the end of the world and then looks for excuses when the sun continues
to rise, Hanson made more predictions. Predictions that have been widely touted
by insecure nationalists and their ludicrous figureheads the world over: The
Muslims are coming!
There's no denying that Hanson has some
support within Australia, and it comes from a support base that 96 per cent of
Australians are not proud of. However, the Trumps and Hansons of the world need
only open their mouths, and the tabloids are willing to quote them as viable
and rational human beings. Even when they get their facts wrong. Perhaps next
time Pauline's political platform could be about immigrants that have actually
gone on to do horrendous damage to Australia. Like cane toads or the crown of
thorns starfish - just to name a few. At least then Pauline would have some
credibility in her argument.
Talal Yassine is the Chairman of Gulf Australia Corporation
What Does The Arrival Of Trump Mean For
17 November 2016
What does the arrival of President-elect
Donald Trump mean for us? How much would that affect Saudi relations with the
US? I have heard this question a lot since last Wednesday, and my answer is
that: Relations with the United States stand on three bases: Mutual interests,
fundamental strategies and political cooperation.
On the first base is a deeply-rooted,
time-tested and powerful 85-year-old’s partnership, since the oil agreement was
signed with US oil companies during the early 1930s. This partnership has
expanded to cooperation in military, security, financial, commercial,
educational and developmental areas in the following decades.
Saudi Arabia, today, is the largest market
for a wide range of American products, which reached $20 billion in 2015, and
more in the form of investments. From F15 to Dreamliner, GMC to iPhone, oil
drillers to security systems, Coca cola to McDonald, US products are flooding
our markets and satisfying our daily needs.
The US market has accommodated hundreds of
billions of investment and oil and petrochemical products. Generations of
Saudis have graduated from US schools and universities, military and security
academies and returned to lead a comprehensive developmental renaissance that
built up the country to one the of world most developed, largest economies, and
best equipped armies.
This sort of relationship is what the
founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, envisioned when he said
that Britain is a friend, but America is a partner, and partners come before
The second base is at the intersection of
regional and international strategic interests, the convergence of objectives
and similarity of means. Both countries are working for global and regional
peace and protecting the security of international waterways in the Arabian
Gulf and the Red Sea in order to fight terrorism and drain its resources. They
are supporting UN efforts in the fields of environmental protection, human
rights and free trade.
They are also striving to achieve these
lofty goals through peaceful and defensive means, such as providing material
and political support to concerned international organizations and to enforce
resolution through implementation of Security Council and international
The third base is cooperation to resolve
regional conflicts, such as the Palestinian, Syrian and Yemeni, and Iranian
interventions and violations of UN resolutions.
Saudi-US agreement on the first and second
bases is almost full. At the third base, the two allies agree on goals and
might disagree on mechanisms and details. For example, on the Palestinian issue
we agree on a two-state solution, but disagree on the method of implementation.
In Syria we agree on the application of
Geneva 1 framework, and all Security Council resolutions, but disagree on how
to support the Syrian opposition and respond to the Russian intransigence. In
Yemen, our agreement is full on the implementation of the Security Council
resolutions and on US Kerry Peace Plan.
Still Saudi-US relations are not free from
thorny issues, such as JASTA Law, and US leniency toward troublemakers — Iran
and Israel. However, these differences are normal in any relationship, and as a
result of different interests and visions toward certain issues and style.
Perhaps the new American president will be
more assertive in dealing with terrorism sponsors and troublemakers in the
region, as promised. These include Iran and militias like Hezbollah, ISIS,
al-Qaeda and the Houthis.
As for election promises, such as charging
allies for protection, I expect the new president to be briefed by his state,
intelligence and defense team, during his first days in office, that US foreign
military bases and access privileges are there to serve its own interests,
guarding international waterways, fighting terrorism and protecting Israel. And
that what America had for free or almost free, other superpowers, like Russia,
China, France and Britain, would pay hefty fees for.
All in all, US-Saudi relations have been
built on solid grounds, since founded by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the 32nd US
President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the 1930s. They remain so, thanks to the
good works of thirteen presidents and six kings, up to the seventh king, Salman
Bin Abdulaziz and the forty-fifth President, Donald Trump.
These constants and fundamentals will not
be affected by a change of leaders. However, policies and stands over certain
issues may do.
Hopefully, the new leadership may find it
more rewarding and beneficial to US interests if it cooperates with it allies
and partners in good faith. We have tried two-faced politics for eight years
and it was ugly. Let’s try, “What you see is what you get” leaders, it might
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah.
As the consequences of Donald Trump's
victory are assessed around the world, there are reasons to be very afraid in
Among the first to celebrate the
race-baiting, misogynist authoritarian's election as the next United States
president was Europe's populist far-right. Marine Le Pen of the National Front
(FN) in France tweeted her congratulations and later said: "Their world is
collapsing. Ours is being built."
Geert Wilders, from the far-right Dutch
Freedom Party, said: "Politics will never be the same. What happened in
America can happen in Europe and the Netherlands, as well."
Frauke Petry, leader of Germany's
anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), also congratulated Trump, while
hailing the historic opportunity his victory represented.
In Austria, Norbert Hofer, presidential
candidate and chairman of the far-right Freedom Party, was similarly jubilant,
as was Hungary's far-right prime minister, Victor Orban, as well as Poland's
staunchly nationalist president, Andrzej Duda.
Globalisation Of The Far-Right
You get the picture: The varying shades of
ethno-nationalist, anti-immigration parties in Europe were really pleased with
Trump's success. Not least because it was so unexpected - and if it can happen
like that in the US, then why not across Europe?
Meanwhile the first foreign politician to
meet Trump following his election win was Nigel Farage of the UK Independence
Farage doesn't have a parliamentary seat,
but was a leading Brexit campaigner in the referendum to take the United
Kingdom out of the European Union, and joined Trump on the campaign trail a few
Now pressuring the British prime minister,
Theresa May, for an ambassadorial role to the US, although May swiftly
dismissed the idea, his meeting with Trump seemed intended to send out a signal
to European voters: The far-right is for winners.
If Europe's assorted populist race-baiters
are happy, it's no doubt bolstered by the impression, emanating from some of
Trump's people, that the globalisation of the racist far-right across Europe is
the stated goal.
That's according to Stephen Bannon, who
runs the white supremacist, misogynistic Breitbart news website, which campaigned
He's going to be the next president's chief
strategist. A man soon to hold all the power that accompanies this White House
position has stated aims to expand the Breitbart empire into France and
Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who is Marine Le
Pen's niece and an FN member of the French parliament, enthused on Twitter
about their working with Bannon. As an analysis piece in the US Daily Beast
news and views website noted, Bannon "is right now the direct line between
the European far-right and Donald J Trump, leader of the free world".
PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR EXPLOITATION
Meanwhile, the think-tank the European
Council on Foreign Relations found earlier this year that, while Russia didn't
create far-right parties in the EU bloc, it benefits from the pro-Russia
sympathies held by a majority of them.
Suspicions routinely circle over Russian
support for such parties, while Marine Le Pen's party has received funding from
a Russian lender a few years ago (after French banks refused to lend).
Now, with Trump seeking a
"partner-like" dialogue with Russia's Vladimir Putin, this full loop
of authoritarian power and influence has terrifying potential.
Small wonder, then, that EU member states
are worried, holding an emergency meeting last Sunday - although Britain,
France and Hungary refused to attend, signalling potential rifts in alliances.
Europe's migration crisis, and failure to
deal with it in a coordinated manner, on top of years of economic crisis, have
created perfect conditions for the far-right to exploit, using the usual tactic
of railing against a corrupt establishment while pushing a nativist nationalism
that scapegoats Muslims and migrants alike as a terror threat and the reason
for everything that's wrong.
But, the reason to be cheerful - OK, just a
little bit less gloomy, then - is the roots of the European project, and all
its attendant values, which may be deep enough to withstand this assault.
Ruth Wodak, author of The Politics of Fear:
What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean, told me by phone that, across Europe,
the levels of "dismay and aversion towards a lot of things Trump has said
and believes" may well galvanise attempts to fight much harder to thwart
any far-right electoral success.
Explaining that this may already have been
the effect of Brexit, once the post-referendum disarray in Britain became
evident, she holds that commitment to issues such as the welfare state,
healthcare, green policies, human rights and a commitment to a joint peace
project in post-war Europe may serve as a political dam against the far-right.
For that to work, though, the EU would need
to take an economic turn to the left, away from the ravaging neoliberalism and
austerity policies that have caused such deep economic pain and fuelled the
anger upon which the far-right feasts.
Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel's Jews
from Arab Lands.