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Grand Mufti: Giving Syrians Zakat an Islamic duty

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh called upon Saudis to give their Zakat to Syrian refugees as the Kingdom marked Tuesday as a day to express solidarity with Syrian children hit by their country’s bloody civil war.
“Giving Zakat to the Syrians is an Islamic duty as it will help save them from poverty and destruction,” the mufti said in a video statement aired by the National Campaign for the Support of Syrians. The campaign is expected to raise millions of riyals for the Syrians.
He also urged Saudis and expats to donate — in cash and kind — generously for the Syrians.
The solidarity day was held on the directive of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to help raise funds and improve international humanitarian aid for Syrian children living in abject conditions.
Meanwhile, an estimated 100,000 Syrian expatriates in Saudi Arabia have allegedly been unable to renew their passports because they oppose the regime back home.
Several Syrians here told Arab News that their country’s missions have stopped renewing their passports.
Mohammed Al-Turkawi, a member of the Syrian opposition living in Jeddah, told Arab News this affects 10 percent of the estimated 1 million Syrians living in Saudi Arabia.
“Syrian expats have to go to neighboring countries to renew their passports. The Syrian mission in the Kingdom had previously canceled the passports of some Syrians who are members of the opposition,” said Al-Turkawi.
Riyadh Saadon, a Syrian dentist, claimed that an official at the consulate in Jeddah refused to renew his passport because of his views.
“The consulate has a blacklist of the names of Syrians living in Jeddah who do not support the government,” Saadon claimed. “Syrian missions in all countries have blacklists with the names of Syrian residents who are involved in activities against the regime.”
All the Syrians on this blacklist face threats of having their passports canceled and cannot deal with their missions, Al-Turkawi claimed.
Most Syrians work in administrative, medical and engineering positions in the Kingdom. Many are afraid to speak openly at meetings here because “spies” might send reports back to the Syrian government.
Many Syrians have posted tragic stories on the Internet about the atrocities perpetrated by the military forces of the regime. “I used to attack the Syrian government on Twitter. I do not travel to my country because I’m afraid of being arrested the moment I set foot on its soil,” said Waleed Abdullah, a Syrian resident in Jeddah.
Hussain Al-Shareef, director of the National Society for Human Rights in Jeddah, told Arab News previously that the organization could help Syrians in these circumstances. Syrian expatriates blocked by their mission can lodge complaints with the NSHR, which would take up their cases with the Saudi Interior Ministry. Syrian expatriates can also approach the ministry directly, Al-Shareef said.
Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission, praised King Abdullah for giving his directive to organize the solidarity day all over the Kingdom. He described the Syrian crisis as a human catastrophe and hoped the Saudi campaign would help alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees, especially children.
In a related development, the office of the International Islamic Relief Organization in Beirut organized a special program for Syrian children. Majed Atiyah, first secretary at the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon, said the king’s solidarity call would reawaken Arabs’ feelings toward Syrian children. IIRO organized recreational programs for 1,000 Syrian children living in refugee camps in Beirut.
People may deposit their donations in the NCB account No. SA 231 00000 201 88888 000100. Donations in kind would be accepted at the campaign’s warehouses in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, Qassim and the Northern Border Province. People can also announce their donations by phone through a joint No. 5565 of telecom companies.

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