Organization of Islamic Cooperation urges all Afghan factions to join the peace process

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, second right, and Afghan Deputy Foreigner Minister Dr. Nasir Ahmad Andisha, third right, during the OIC meeting in Jeddah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Organization of Islamic Cooperation urges all Afghan factions to join the peace process

  • Saudi Arabia provides economic and humanitarian aid as well as other means of assistance to help in Afghanistan
  • The insurgents are fighting under the name of jihad and they have lost the base of their fighting because Saudi Arabia and the highest authorities in the Islamic world have condemned it

JEDDAH: Afghanistan has witnessed terrorist acts and bombings that go against the teachings of the Islamic Shariah, said Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Zuhair bin Mohammed Al-Idrisi.
“The situation (in Afghanistan) required an intervention from the OIC and efforts made by Saudi Arabia under the guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman. Today this meeting has been set by Saudi Arabia’s efforts to explore means of implementing this decision,” said Al-Adrisi at a meeting of OIC permanent representatives on supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan, held in the OIC headquarters in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Al-Adrisi said that the first step was the International Ulema Conference on peace and security in Afghanistan, which was held in the Kingdom in July and resulted in a call for an end to violence in the country, saying fighting between Muslims was strictly prohibited in Islam.
King Salman told the ulema during that conference that Saudis had lived through the Afghanistan crisis and shared the suffering of the Afghan people from the beginning of this conflict, which resulted in civil war.
“Saudi Arabia provides economic and humanitarian aid as well as other means of assistance to help in Afghanistan,” Al-Adrisi continued.
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Dr. Nasir Ahmad Andisha said: “The conflict in Afghanistan does not have only domestic or internal aspects; it has regional and international aspects too. There are countries that are right now unfortunately supporting the Taliban, giving them sanctuary. Our message is that prolonging support for terrorists and extremists, as history has shown, cannot be beneficial to any country. The foreign policy should not be based on supporting enemies and terrorists from other countries, especially for neighboring countries.
“That is why it is taking longer because when the Taliban retreats when they are beaten on the battleground, they move to neighboring countries and get treatment at the hospitals. Their families are there. I think that is the reason it’s prolonged, otherwise, a terrorist insurgent group which all the world has condemned does not have support to continue the war. So the idea of coming to this kind of forum is to bring international pressure, especially from Islamic countries, over those countries to end their support for the terrorists.”
Andisha believes the first step would be for the countries who have larger influence over the Taliban to bring them to the peace negotiation table.
“The insurgents are fighting under the name of jihad and they have lost the base of their fighting because Saudi Arabia and the highest authorities in the Islamic world have condemned it,” he said. “They don’t have a base, but now it is our job to take this message of solidarity of the Islamic world to the local people, to the villages of Afghanistan, to tell them that this war is devoid of any Islamic ideology and religious support.
“The problems we have within our own region have adversely affected the unity of the Islamic nations and have an adverse affect in Afghanistan, because if some countries have their own problems on a regional level it makes their cooperation very difficult,” he concluded.
Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the OIC, stressed how important it was for the Afghan government to crystallize what it considers appropriate to establish sustainable peace, security and reconciliation among the segments of the Afghan people. This was part of his statement at the meeting, held at the request of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Othaimeen noted that the OIC is following with interest the efforts of Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, in calling upon the Taliban to engage in peace talks.
He urged OIC member states to harness their diplomatic influence to bring all factions in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.


Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

Ithra takes visitors to the magical world of Manganiyar, an Indian folk music, in Dhahran on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

  • There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me”

DHAHRAN: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran has been transporting its visitors to the magical world of the Manganiyar from Nov. 14-17. The Manganiyar is a timeless Indian orchestra originally born in the region of Rajasthan in north India, which has continued over many generations.
The basic song on which the show is based comes from a poem by the 17th-century Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. The resulting folk music is an audio-visual feast that mixes light and voice and features more than 40 musicians in one performance.
The first Manganiyar show in Ithra was sold out.
“It was the first time in my life that inspiration dawned on me; it was like a heavenly gift,” Roysten Abel, the director of the musical show, told Arab News when he was asked how the band started their touring and performance journey.
“I was in Spain working as a street performer. One day I was resting and I heard wonderful music, which I thought was a dream. Then I realized that there were two musicians outside my room singing to wake me up. I then proposed the idea of forming this Manganiyar band,” Abel said.
Abel went to the Manganiyar’s hometown to create the band.
“I went to Rajasthan, auditioned almost 200 musicians and finally selected 50 to have our first show in 2006. Since then, if I ever listen to an old Manganiyar musician or a new one, I still weep because they haunt me with their singing.”
There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me.”
Creating the performance and the harmony between the band members and the director took time.
“The musicians needed to know what this guy who is coming from outside wants? What is he going to make us do? Building the relationship took around a year and a half, and so it took us year and a half to build up the show.”
“I always say the Manganiyar selection was God’s gift to us because it was actually given to us and it runs on its own.”
Abel said that the Manganiyar show always sells out anywhere it goes due the experience it offers. “There has not been one show where we have not received a standing ovation.”
“We even performed in Hyde Park, Sydney, where nobody knew what to expect,” Abel said. “There were a good 10,000 people in the park, and when the show was over these 10,000 started clapping and even stayed for the second performance!”
Abel shared the band’s insights about their first visit to Saudi Arabia: “We were very curious to see how it was going to be received, but it turned out to be one of the best performances and the audience was thrilled. So, there’s always a lot of surprises and I tend to never expect. I just love to see what happens.”
Abel urged everyone to turn up and have their own experience of the Manganiyar. “People should all come and tell their friends to come, and live the show, because at the end of the day the show is not like any other music concert; it’s an experience of its own.”
Abel said that people’s responses to the show varied; some left in tears while others “jumped with joy.”
What matters to him, he said, is that people get the essence behind the show, which is love.