Ministry warns students against mocking Islam

Updated 03 October 2013
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Ministry warns students against mocking Islam

The Ministry of Education has warned that it would expel any student found mocking Islam or spreading illicit ideas at school. Penalties for violating the code of behavior include preventing a student from pursuing studies for one academic year. The ministry would notify all education departments of its decision without naming the accused.
The ministry called on school principals to inform their local education department of such cases so student committees could launch investigations. These committees should have sessions with students implicated in such behavior.
Sources said the decision of the ministry comes following reports of a number of students found mocking the rituals of Islam and discussing subjects and ideas the violate Islamic law. Sources said that the ministry has expressed concern about the harmful effect of such behavior on students and the community.
The ministry wants students to be educated on the punishment for such violations. It urged education role models to step up efforts to tackle such suspicious acts, the sources said.
The ministry has introduced a special therapy-based program involving advice and counseling sessions. Guilty students undertake voluntary community service and attend behavioral adjustment and life-skill sessions.
Students who wish to return to school after their one-year ban can do so only after gaining permission from their regional education director. In addition, the school will file confidential reports every month about the status and behavior of these students.
Students can compensate by acquiring an accredited certificate showing they had attended a five-hour life skills course and produce a document signed by two teachers and the school principal that their behavior has improved.
The ministry said the codes of behavior and attendance are mandatory for all schools and have to be applied by principals, teachers and administrators. Muhammad Al-Dakhini, spokesperson for the education ministry, said the codes aim to build a generation committed to Islam and the country.
A number of teachers who work in private and public schools confirmed that they have witnessed students between the ages of 15-17 expressing disrespectful views about Islamic laws. “I have noted that there are many students, under the age of 18, who are engaging in insolent behavior directed toward Islam. Most of them have been affected by globalization and are carried away by a desire to imitate what they deem as Western freedom,” Abdullah Al-Turki, a teacher at a public school in Jeddah, told Arab News.
“It is alarming to see students mocking our religious values. I have had some students who laugh during prayers. This decision will contribute in fostering greater respect within students toward religion, especially they are being deterred by serious punishment,” said Abed Mansour, a religion teacher who works at a private school in Jeddah.
Meanwhile, Ali Rushdi, a teacher who works at a private school in Jeddah, said, “We have to increase awareness among students regarding Islam before we apply severe punishments against them. The school’s role is to educate students and create morality. However, if students insist on violating the law, they should reprimanded and penalized as an example for others.”


Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

Updated 56 min 11 sec ago
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Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

  • Benefits of three-country tour include billions in economic deals as well as security initiatives

JEDDAH: The three-country tour of Asia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that came to a close this weekend was an economic and strategic success, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia might be seen by some as moving to the East,” Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Arab News. “The correct way to put it is that it’s spreading its wings East and West.

“Economic diversification requires strategic diversification. This should not be seen in any way as Saudi Arabia giving the cold shoulder to its most trusted allies, specifically the US,” he said. “And as Joseph Parry said: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.’”

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warmly welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy that relies on crude oil exports into a vibrant, diversified economy. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is the one and only country that can take the leadership position on the global efforts of combating terrorism, specifically in the ideological front,” Al-Ansari said.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that China and Saudi Arabia have the same goals of security and stability. “China shares the Kingdom’s concerns and it knows that our continent has suffered from terrorism issues and international interventions and also troubles in the region.”

The two countries also improved on their mutually beneficial economic ties. As Al-Shehri pointed out: “China needs a huge energy source, and Saudi Arabia is one of these sources that can provide China with energy.”

One significant deal is the $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Norinco, to be developed in the Chinese city of Panjin.

Also of great geopolitical significance is the $10-billion oil-refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, as it is one of the most important parts of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Al-Shehri said. “Global players are willing to invest in this project. The Kingdom’s investment in this field will serve Pakistan and will benefit the Kingdom as well as the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).”

And despite its historical relationship with Pakistan, Al-Shehri said that the Kingdom also found common ground with India. For instance, the two countries agreed to set up a working group on counter-terrorism. 

“India shares the Kingdom’s concern about instability in the seas, such as the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. These are all places of global trade,” Al-Shehri said, adding that he hopes the Kingdom will play a role in resolving border points of contention between Pakistan and India as it did between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It wasn’t all just business. The crown prince’s tour included some other announcements, including that 2,100 Pakistani and 850 Indian prisoners will be released from the Kingdom’s jails, that the Chinese language will be introduced in the Saudi school curriculum and that Saudi Arabia will soon host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers.

The crown prince also called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods.