Saudi Arabia to host meeting of Islamic scholars on Afghan war

Men carry the coffin of a relative who died in a deadly suicide attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 22, 2018. Taliban attacks in western Afghanistan killed 14 soldiers and policemen on Monday as residents in the capital prepared for the funerals of those killed in the horrific bombing by the Daesh group on a voter registration center that left at least 57 dead the previous day. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 29 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia to host meeting of Islamic scholars on Afghan war

  • More bloodbath is expected as the Taliban has launched its annual "Spring Offensive" despite peace overtures by the government
  • Afghan official says the meeting in Jeddah will have high impact since in the past Pakistani ulema have repeatedly termed the war in Afghanistan as jihad and a righteous act

KABUL:  A meeting of Islamic scholars from across the world will be held in Jeddah in July to discuss the religious justification of the Taliban war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) officials said on Saturday.

Akram Khpolwak, HPC’s secretariat chief, is in Saudi Arabia and has held meetings with authorities and members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation about the moot, Sayed Ehsanullah Tahiri, HPC spokesman, told Arab News.

The first of its kind, the moot will examine the latest round of the spiraling Afghan war, which began with the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. It is being held at the request of the HPC, which has struggled for years to bring Taliban militants to the dialogue table, the HPC official said.

It follows the offer of President Ashraf Ghani’s unconditional peace package in February, which has earned regional and international support.

The Taliban have neither rejected nor accepted the overture, but the launch of the group’s annual offensive this week was seen as a rejection of the offer by some analysts.

Asked if Afghanistan would accept a decision by the meeting that sought the expulsion of foreign troops, Tahiri said that the Taliban could put a timetable for troop withdrawal on the table when the group accepts Ghani’s unconditional peace talks offer.

“The meeting in Jeddah will have high impact since in the past Pakistani ulema have repeatedly termed the war here as jihad and a righteous act,” he said, adding that the upcoming moot will decide that the Afghan war has no legality.

“We need a religious verdict on this war and the holy religion of Islam emphatically orders all that there has to be talks, negotiations, between adversaries at all times.”

He said that despite the launch of the spring offensive by the Taliban, sources from within the group suggested that its leadership was deliberating on Ghani’s overture and expressed the hope that an Afghan-led peace process would begin later this year.

“All scholars from the Muslim countries should attend the meeting and assess the Afghan war and bloodshed from a religious point of view,” Tahiri said.

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a lawmaker who is a leading opponent of foreign troops in Afghanistan, described the meeting as a great initiative by Saudi Arabia.

“We hope that the ulema come up with a just decision,” Khawasi said.

“We have some ulema who exploit facts. We hope that this meeting debates and decides about the overall conflict that is going on in different parts of the Islamic world,” he told Arab News.


Unique Riyadh car race brings in enthusiasts from all around

It is not hard to get anyone on to the track — the hardest thing is to get them back again. (Supplied)
Updated 18 min 53 sec ago
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Unique Riyadh car race brings in enthusiasts from all around

  • FJR racing team owner Falah Al-Jarba, who is participating for the first time with his 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, said he was impressed with the first round turnout and noted that the short notice of this event did not affect participation

RIYADH: The first round of the Saudi Time Attack race kicked off on the Reem race circuit yesterday. The 16-category race is unique in its participation since anyone can turn up and join in. Whether you are an everyday driver, enthusiast or would-be racer the Time Attack Race has a category for you.
“We target different types of drivers, usually people with a sports car or regular stock car who want to race their car to the max in a safe environment with other drivers,” said Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). He added that the target participants for this race are not necessarily professionals but rather enthusiasts, semi pros, amateurs, and beginners.
FJR racing team owner Falah Al-Jarba, who is participating for the first time with his 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, said he was impressed with the first round turnout and noted that the short notice of this event did not affect participation.
“It is not hard to get anyone on to the track — the hardest thing is to get them back again. Anyone who enters the race track three times of his own free will has the makings of a driver,” he said.

Passion
Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Fahad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, participating racer and owner of the MS7 racing team, said it is passion that attracts everyone to the race. “It is not a head-to-head race but it is competitive and it is fun. There is no pressure — everyone is here to have fun. I am happy that I participated,” he explained. This also marks a first for Saudi women racing as four women competed for the first time in a car race.
“For the first time we have a ladies category. These opportunities will be better reflected in two to three years’ time but if anyone would ask where did it start, it started here in this 2018 season,” said the “Camaro King” Falah Al-Jarba.
Prince Mohammed is very welcoming of any new competitor to the racing industry.
“At the end of the day if you have two hands, two legs and can drive that’s what it comes down to regardless of your gender, your weight, your height or your size, it is all about how well you can perform under pressure,” he said.
Prince Khalid expects a better turnout for female participants in the next round of the race scheduled for Nov. 16. He added that there has been a great interest in joining the race and wanted to clarify that anyone who wants to take part in the race does not need to have a race car.