Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

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In this file photo, Indonesian Muslim pilgrims sit in a tent at Mount Arafat in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Salman is hosting this Hajj 40 pilgrims from Indonesia, some of them women. (AFP file)
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Updated 12 August 2018
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Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

  • Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi met with the pilgrims before his departure on Sunday

JAKARTA: Forty Indonesians, including an orphaned teenager and the secretary general of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, have been personally invited by King Salman to perform Hajj this year.

Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi invited the party of pilgrims — which includes six women and two journalists — to his official residence in central Jakarta on Sunday morning prior to their departure for the Kingdom in the afternoon.

“The invitations were sent out to those who have contributed positively to the Muslim community,” Al Shuaibi said through a translator.

Muhammad Izhar Assahmy, a 17-year-old student from Al Irsyad Islamic boarding school in East Java, and Husaini Muhtadi Azri, a 16-year-old who is a student at Al Aziziyah Islamic boarding school in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara were among this year’s privileged pilgrims.

Azri, an orphan, said he will pray for his parents when he performs the Hajj rituals in the holy sites.

“I hope I can perform the Hajj well in accordance to the manasik I have been practicing,” Assahmy told Arab News.

Five Islamic course lecturers and the rector of the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) in Surabaya, East Java, were also among the pilgrims.

“I was told that the campus received some invitations from King Salman to perform the hajj and that I was invited. This is really a blessing for me,” one of the lecturers, Choirul Mafhud, told Arab News. 

Al-Shuaibi said this is the first time that journalists have been included in the roster of pilgrims invited by the king.

“About 80 percent of (the party) have never gone on Hajj before. The remaining 20 percent have performed Hajj, but they have been invited (by the king) to show his appreciation of their role for Islam in Indonesia,” the ambassador said.

Muhammad Zaitun Rasmin, the deputy secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) is one of those who has previously performed Hajj. He went to university in Madinah.

“I have now been invited in my capacity as the chairman of the Southeast Asian ulema association and this is the first time I have been invited by the king,” Rasmin said.

The group will go spend a fortnight in Jeddah before going to Makkah and Madinah, he said.

“We hope we return as Hajj mabrur and this invitation from the king will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s relations with Indonesia,” Rasmin said.

Helmy Faishal Zaini, secretary general of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization said he was invited along with NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj, but that the latter had to decline due to family matters.

“I think the spirit of the king’s invitation is to maintain cooperation and understanding between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia as well as to develop a closer bond between Muslims in both countries,” he told Arab News. 

As Hajj season commences, 182,547 of Indonesia’s allotted 221,000 quota of pilgrims have reportedly arrived in Madinah and Jeddah as of Sunday .


Somali militant-turned-politician arrested before regional vote

Updated 13 December 2018
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Somali militant-turned-politician arrested before regional vote

MOGADISHU: A former senior Somali militant leader was arrested on Thursday, the government said, less than a week before he was scheduled to run for a regional presidency.
The government accused Muktar Robow, who defected from the extremist Al-Shabab movement last year, of “organizing a militia” in Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern Bay region, and seeking to “undermine stability.”
“These actions indicate that he never relinquished his extremist ideologies and is ready to harm the Somali people again,” the government said in a statement.
Authorities had been attempting to prevent Robow from standing in the December 19 election because he remains subject to US sanctions for his time as deputy leader of Shabab.
The Al-Qaeda affiliate Shabab has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government for more than a decade.
Police sources speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that Robow had been arrested in Baidoa and taken to the capital Mogadishu.
Baidoa residents told AFP that hundreds of supporters took to the streets in protest of the detention of Robow, who enjoys the support of several clans and is regarded as a serious candidate for the region’s leader.
Sporadic gunfire was heard in the city, the residents said.
“This is a violation of democracy, Robow was standing in his region and his people wanted him. The government has no right to arrest him, this will lead to violence,” said Mohamed Sheik Ali, a Baidoa resident told AFP.
“The people are burning tires and the police are firing gunshots to disperse them. There is gunfire and there are casualties as well,” said Osman Adan, another witness.
“Armed militia and supporters of Robow have reportedly clashed with the police and the situation in town is tense as we speak,” he added.
Robow’s run for office has exposed the tensions between Somalia’s federal states, which want greater autonomy from a national administration keen to safeguard its central powers.
Robow defected from the Shabab in August last year. For a time the US government had offered a $5 million (4.4 million euro) bounty for his capture.
In 2013 Robow split from former Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and sought refuge in the nearby region of Bakool, without completely breaking off links to the group.
Forced out of Mogadishu in 2011, the Shabab have since lost the bulk of their strongholds though they still control vast swathes of mainly rural zones from where they launch guerilla operations on government, security and civilian targets.