Tweet remembering compassionate sweet seller touches Saudi hearts

Updated 14 February 2018
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Tweet remembering compassionate sweet seller touches Saudi hearts

RIYADH: A tweet recounting a touching story from Ibrahim Assiri’s childhood generated quite a buzz on Feb. 7. The tweet was viewed three million times, according to Assiri. It got 24,200 likes and was retweeted 38,200 times, while 1,660 people left comments about it, or shared their own.

“Tonight, the owner of a mini-market, who taught me that willful disregard does not equate to stupidity, passed away. When I was a kid, I handed him a fragmented 10 riyal note with parts of a 1 riyal note taped to it. He smiled at me and said, “Wow! Eleven riyals!” My purchases cost 5 riyals, and he handed me back my 5 riyals change. With the confidence and audacity that only a child can project, I asked him for the remaining 1 riyal. It’s a memory I could never forget.” Assiri tweeted, late on the evening of the 7th.

Assiri told Arab News: “I spent my childhood in a southern village on the mountain, where the nearest city was at least an hour away. Uncle Amer’s mini-market and all the candy it offered represented a paradise to a child with the limited imagination of someone who’s never set foot out of the village.”

“No matter the terrible state my riyals were in, and how I’d continue with my mischievous act, Uncle Amer never turned me or any other child away. Seeing our victorious smiles at having ‘tricked’ him brought him as much joy as it did us, in spite of the losses we were unintentionally causing him.”

Assiri found a mangled 10 riyal note inside a box, almost shapeless, and with youthful mischief, and knowing that Amer would not reprimand him, he taped parts of the 1 riyal note to the missing parts of the 10 riyals. “To my surprise, the kind man accepted it with a smile.”

“It’s been over 30 years since. When I heard about his passing, I could still taste the sweetness of the candy he used to sell, and I recalled his unwavering kindness and forgiveness.” Assiri expressed his grief, saying he wept for the loss as though it was his father who had died.

“I think people reacted to the story this strongly because it dwelled on human nature and morality of the gentle store owner. Or perhaps because it touched upon suppressed childhood memories that we’ve overlooked as we grew up. Telling my story showed me many in my country had their own Uncle Amer, and his store is but a symbol to countless others. He resides for ever in the consciousness of Saudis born in the 70s and 80s.”


Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

Children attending an open-air Arabic school in February at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they were learning to read the Qur’an. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

  • Al-Mouallimi: International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity
  • In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, said Saudi Arabia's top diplomat at the UN

JEDDAH: Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable and punished for their crimes, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity, he added. “We witnessed a new massacre committed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, which killed dozens of Palestinian martyrs and wounded thousands,” he said. 

“And for seven consecutive years, the world has witnessed bloodletting in Syria, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians using various means,” including “genocide,” he added. 

“In Myanmar, the world is watching as hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya are driven out of their homes that are burnt, their women raped and children displaced.”

In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, Al-Mouallimi said. 

He cited the example of four-year-old Jamila, who had been used as a human shield. She was saved by Saudi-led coalition forces and handed over to her family.

Saudi Arabia supports the formation of a committee of inquiry into Israel’s crimes in Gaza, and a mechanism to collect documents and evidence to hold perpetrators of war crimes in Syria accountable, Al-Mouallimi said.

He stressed the need to facilitate the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in a safe, dignified and voluntary way, and to hold accountable those who caused them harm.