Ministry warns students against mocking Islam

Updated 03 October 2013

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.”


13th edition of Souk Okaz begins as part of Taif Season

Updated 18 min 8 sec ago

13th edition of Souk Okaz begins as part of Taif Season

  • Taif Season is one of the 11 festivals aimed at transforming the Kingdom into an important global tourist destination

On behalf of King Salman, Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal launched Souk Okaz — which is part of Taif Season — Tuesday night.

Prince Khaled was received at Souk Okaz by President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) Ahmed Al-Khateeb and Taif Governor Saad Al-Maimouni. Ambassadors, diplomats and others from inside and outside Saudi Arabia also attended the event.

The launch ceremony started with the Saudi national anthem followed by a video presentation about the history of Souk Okaz, which —  according to Taif Season spokesman Naif Al-Osaimi — opened in 501 CE. It was reopened 12 years ago and has since been an annual international culture festival.

The presentation was followed by an operetta — “Arab 501” — based on the Mu’allaqat, the seven poems from the pre-Islamic era traditionally believed to hang in the Kaaba at Makkah. “Arab 501” starred some of the best talent from around the Arab world, including Mohammed Abdu of Saudi Arabia, Kadim Al-Saher of Iraq, and the Lebanese singer Carole Samaha.

Prince Khaled then presented the Poet of Okaz award —  and the attendant SR1 million ($266,640)cash prize — to Saudi poet Mohammed Ibrahim Yaqoub. Yemeni poet Abdullah Obaid was awarded SR500,000 for second place, while SR250,000 went to Saudi poet Azzam Al-Ghaithi for coming third.

Prince Khaled was briefed on recent developments at Souk Okaz, including the amphitheater on Okaz Boulevard, which can accommodate 5,000 spectators for its theatrical equestrian shows.

Prince Khaled pointed out that the Souk will see further development in the near future, adding that the Kingdom’s security, stability, culture and economy are a result of several factors, chief among which is, he said, the country’s adherence to Islam.

“Souk Okaz has added a lot to Taif Season, although every event has its own taste,” SCTH’s director general in the Makkah region,  Mohammed Abdullah Al-Amri, told Arab News.

“Our main target is to bring Taif back to the frontline of Arab tourism,” said Al-Osaimi. “Today’s operetta may help put Taif again on top of Arab tourism as a meeting place and a resort for Arabs. We have 11 Arab countries participating in this edition of Souk Okaz and we are determined to introduce new events and activities at Souk Okaz to meet the needs our audience.”

Taif Season is one of 11 festivals aimed at transforming the Kingdom into an important global tourist destination. Dozens of events have been taking place this month in the southwestern city, which is famous for its heritage and beautiful landscapes.

Souq Okaz is one of the main attractions of the event. At the Souq, people can experience the culture of 11 different Arab nations by visiting pavilions showcasing the food, art and commerce of the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. There is also, of course, a pavilion for the host nation.

The Souk will also play host to some of the region’s biggest music stars between August 23 and 30, including the UAE’s Ahlam and Hussein Al-Jassmi, Assala Nasri of Syria, and the Kingdom’s Abadi Al-Johar and Dalia Mubarak.

This is the third edition of Souq Okaz since King Salman gave SCTH the responsibility of organizing the event in coordination with executive bodies in Makkah region.