Lankan politician to propose govt subsidy for Haj pilgrims

Updated 22 January 2015

Lankan politician to propose govt subsidy for Haj pilgrims

A leading Sri Lankan Muslim politician plans to propose that the newly elected government of the island nation subsidize citizens going on Haj.
Azath Salley, the former deputy mayor of Colombo and a member of the new government’s task team to implement its program over the first 100 days, told Arab News on Thursday he plans to deliver the proposal soon to Minister for Muslim Religious Affairs Mohammed Hazeem.
Speaking from Makkah, where he is on Umrah with his wife Reinoza, Salley said the Haj scheme in Sri Lanka does not benefit lower middle-class families. “The Haj package shot up last year to Rs650,000 (SR18,508) which average Muslims cannot afford,” he said.
He said that the scheme would possibly be implemented this year and benefit half of all pilgrims from Sri Lanka. He would also urge the government to increase the Haj quota, which was cut from 6,700 to 2,200 last year.
“Muslims will be given their due place under the present regime.” Minorities such as Tamils and Muslims would be treated with respect and their rights protected, he said. He said Minorities were living “in fear and insecurity” in the country. “Muslims cannot forget the orchestrated attacks on them in Alutgama and Beruwella,” he said.
He lamented that the Waqaf Board and Muslim schools on the island were neglected by the previous regime. “We will restore them to their pristine glory,” he said.
Commenting on the recent stunning election victory of President Maithripala Sirisena, Salley said that God never takes the side of persons who are engaged in unjust acts. “It was emancipation from misrule, dictatorship and totalitarianism.”
“President Sirisena emerged victorious through a popular mandate given by the majority Buddhists and minorities on the island.” He said the people showed that they do not support corruption, nepotism and dictatorship. The new president received backing from people of all faiths including Buddhists, Tamils and Muslims.
Salley said Tamil-speaking people in the country have placed great faith in the new president.
He said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would help to ensure good governance.
He said the mandate of the voters ended the culture of violence. “No man will be above the law under the new regime,” he said.
Salley said he had come on Umrah to thank the Almighty for the blessed opportunity that the country now has to create good governance.


US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

Updated 20 February 2020

US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

  • Consul General Rachna Korhonen: I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are
  • Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year

DHAHRAN: The US Consulate General in Dhahran hosted its 2020 National Day reception on Feb. 19 to celebrate 244 years of American Independence, and the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy.

Consul General Rachna Korhonen and her husband Juha Korhonen welcomed the deputy governor of the Eastern Province, Khalid Al-Battal, and deputy governor of Alkhobar, Abdullah bin Ali Al-Seef, as the guests of honor.

Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year.

“Seventy-five years ago, two great leaders met aboard the USS Quincy. President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz met to chart the future of our bilateral ties. This first encounter between a US president and a Saudi King laid the foundation for the broad strategic partnership the US and Saudi Arabia share today. Beyond partnership, President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz forged a personal friendship that is at the heart of the strong ties our two countries share today,” said Korhonen.

She added: “As the first woman to be consul general here, it has been an exciting journey for me. I arrived to Dhahran in August 2017, to a country undergoing remarkable changes.  Vision 2030 has opened new possibilities, tourism opportunities are growing, women are driving and attending sporting events. I have said this many times and it is still true: I have the best job in the best place at the best time.

“Most of all, I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya (Eastern Province) who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are. I have made friendships that I know are going to last me a lifetime. When I leave here this summer, I will certainly leave a piece of my heart here but I also plan to take a little piece of your heart with me.”