‘Extremism may derail Lanka progress’

Updated 24 October 2014
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‘Extremism may derail Lanka progress’

Rising extremism is causing significant concern among minority communities in Sri Lanka, particularly Muslims, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem said in Riyadh during an interview this week.
“This is an unfortunate trend that needs to be addressed with great seriousness,” said Hakeem, who is also the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. He added that the tendency to engage in hate speech was continuously being tolerated without sufficient action being taken by the government to contain the situation.”
“The deliberate intimidation of minorities is certainly not promoting reconciliation following 30 years of prolonged war,” he said, stressing that extremist groups would only perpetuate polarization within society.
He warned that Sri Lanka’s progress following years of warring could be hindered if political leaders did not take serious measures to reign in the extremists.
“Unless remedial action is taken against these intolerant forces, the country could be further isolated from important international forums,” he said.
“We have backed the government in facing its challenges at the Geneva Forum in 2012. However, the growing level of religious extremism is causing concern for the Muslim community and we will be simply driven to seek international sympathy to resolve this communal issue,” Hakeem said. He added that the “rule of law should be strictly followed in the country. No one can be above the law, whether he is a Buddhist monk or a member of the clergy from any other community”.
When asked about the Presidential Elections tentatively scheduled for January 2015, Hakeem said that his party, SLMC, has not still decided on its stance on this topic for the forthcoming elections.
“We will obtain a consensus from all committees of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress as well as the Muslim community in general to decide our position in the elections,” he said.
Hakeem, who arrived in the Kingdom on a private visit to perform umrah, was accompanied by Naseer Ahamed, Northern Provincial Council Agriculture Minister.
During his visit to Riyadh, the two ministers, along with country’s ambassador, Mohamed Hussein Mohamed, met Deputy Minister for International Trade Dr. Abdullah Al-Obaid, as well as the Deputy Minister for Research and Agricultural Development.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 19 April 2018
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.