Detainees were pushing ‘extremist agenda,’ Saudi foreign minister claims

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir attends a high level meeting to discuss the current situation in Libya during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Updated 23 September 2017
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Detainees were pushing ‘extremist agenda,’ Saudi foreign minister claims

NEW YORK: A group of prominent clerics, academics and businessmen in Saudi Arabia who were arrested earlier this month were “pushing an extremist agenda,” according to Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
The minister also claimed the detainees had taken funding from foreign countries.
Many of those arrested had previously been critical of the government or its policies, and some have ties to a brand of political Islam the country’s rulers have long opposed. While there have been social media posts apparently identifying some of those arrested, the government’s Center for International Communication has not responded to requests for comments and the names cannot yet be independently confirmed.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York on Wednesday, Al-Jubeir said that more information would be released “when the investigations are concluded,” and stressed that “(those) detained were pushing an extremist agenda. They were inciting people, and this was not going to stand.”
He added that, since Saudi Arabia expected others to have “zero tolerance for extremism and terrorism,” then “we ourselves will live by this.”
In contrast, he later referenced Qatar, saying Saudi Arabia’s neighbor — currently embroiled in an ongoing feud with the Kingdom, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — “has to stop supporting terrorists, stop financing terrorists, stop providing safe harbor to people implicated and wanted for terror financing.”
Al-Jubeir went on to name Iran as “the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism,” claiming Saudi Arabia’s longtime rival was “on a rampage” that is destabilizing the Middle East.
“Iran is a huge threat to all of us in the region and unless it changes its policy our region will always be troubled,” he said.
Asked about the Kingdom’s commitment to Saudi Vision 2030, a blueprint announced last year to diversify the economy away from oil, Al-Jubeir said the government has taken tangible steps toward implementing the plan, citing the building of entertainment venues, the introduction of laws giving companies “direct licensing to have retail operations in Saudi Arabia,” and the diversification of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund to invest more overseas as examples.
“These are things that are noticeable,” he said.


Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

Updated 18 July 2018
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Fast track to Hajj on Jakarta’s ‘Makkah Road’

  • A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport
  • The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital

JAKARTA: A fast-track clearance for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims — known as the “Makkah Road” — has been opened at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport.
The initiative comes as the first groups of pilgrims left from six Indonesian cities, including the capital.
Indonesian and Saudi officials, including Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Indonesia, were present at the official launch of the fast-track facility on Tuesday.
Airport operator Angkasa Pura has installed 20 booths to process Hajj pilgrims, with each counter manned by two Saudi immigration officers.
“This is the first time the immigration process has taken place in Jakarta, so they will not have to go through custom clearance on arrival in Saudi Arabia and can go directly to their buses, which will take them to their accommodation, while their luggage will be handled and delivered directly to their respective hotels,” Al-Shuaibi said.
“This is a step to improve our Hajj services. We have introduced it this year at Jakarta, where about 60,000 pilgrims are expected to depart. We will introduce it in four cities next time and eventually we hope to introduce it all Hajj embarkations in Indonesia,” he said.
The envoy said that about 400 pilgrims underwent the fast-track clearance in an hour at the airport on Tuesday.
“We appreciate King Salman’s initiative that makes the pilgrims’ journey much easier. It shows that we have a deep and close relation,” Indonesia’s Minister of Social Affairs, Idrus Marham, said.
Director-General of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Nizar Ali, said that 4,486 pilgrims had left from Surakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta, Padang, Makassar and Lombok. More than 221,000 pilgrims are expected to leave Indonesia this year, with the last departure on Aug. 14.
Garuda, the Indonesian airline, expects to fly as many as 108,000 pilgrims in 280 groups from around the country.
Among the 393 pilgrims who left Jakarta was 91-year-old Mohammad Hasan Saad, from East Jakarta, the oldest person in the group.
Hanif Fakri, a member of the medical staff assisting the group, said that Saad was making his second pilgrimage after his first Hajj in 2012.
Hanafi bin Dogol, a 50-year-old pilgrim from East Jakarta, told Arab News that he been on a seven-year waiting list waiting for his chance to go on Hajj.
“I have been practicing and learning the rituals. I hope I can accomplish the pilgrimage in the most favorable manner,” he said.