Mass Funeral for Qatif’s Dead

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Photos and videos coming from Awwamiya tonight showed a mass funeral held for the three men who died earlier this week when security forces stormed a house in Qatif to arrest one of them. Khaled al-Labad was the wanted man. He was shot dead Wednesday with a teenager named Mohammed al-Manasef. Another teenager who was injured in the same raid succumbed to his wounds Saturday. His name is Hasan Zahiri.

Detained Activist Begins Hunger Strike

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Reuters:

Eisa al-Marzouq al-Nakhifi, from Jazan Province in southern Saudi Arabia, was arrested two weeks ago and started a hunger strike to protest against being detained without any date set for a court hearing, his lawyer told Reuters.

Nakhifi had campaigned on behalf of villagers evacuated from their homes near the border during a brief conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels in late 2009. Some say they have not been allowed to return.

Al-Nakhifi almost single-handedly brought the case of the southern border’s displaced villagers to the public spotlight. Now he is being accused of interfering with state security because he used the internet to call for protests.

Girls Not Allowed?

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The good people at the Zahra Breast Cancer Association do an important, amazing work. As the first NGO of its kind in the country, they have probably done more to raise awareness about this disease than anyone else. In preparation for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Zahra launched a new campaign focused on the importance of early detection. This is the banner they are using to promote the campaign on their website:

The banner features four men: Omar Hussain, a comedian; Kaswara al-Khatib, an adman; Turki al-Dakhil, a television host; and Qusai, a musician. All of them are well-known faces in Saudi Arabia. I have met at least two of them and I can confidently say they are very nice guys. Still, something is missing.

Women.

For a campaign targeting women (the Arabic text clearly addresses women, not men), it is bizarre that no women appear on Zahra’s promotional material for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Is it possible that Zahra could not find any Saudi female celebrities who would agree to participate in their campaign and appear in their ads?

Al-Farabi Music

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Laura Bashraheel reports on al-Farabi, a band in Jeddah who try combine classical Arabic poetry with fusion music:

The band hopes its combination of formal Arabic with fusion music will attract an international audience. Their main goal is to introduce a new musical trend and appreciation for instrumental music in the Kingdom. The band is expected to release an EP (extended play) containing five songs.

“We have over 12 songs but we will include five in the album as we are still experimenting with the market and see what sort of response we get,” said Farhan.

Jeddah has a fascinating, budding art scene. I met Thamer Farhan, manager of al-Farabi, when I visited the city for the first time few years ago. He used to rap. I thought he was talented and smart, but too introverted to be performing on stage. Now it seems that he is working more on the production and management side of things. The band has an interesting concept. You can listen to them in a jam session in the video below:

Iran to Create Their Own Google

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AP:

An Iranian official says Tehran plans to create its own search engine and e-mail service to replace Google and its Gmail e-mail service, even as it weights lifting a ban on Gmail enacted in response to an anti-Islam film.

Let’s just hope this won’t inspire their big neighbor across the Gulf to do the same.

Lack of Ideas in Saudi Football

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After losing 5-0 to World and Europe’s champions Spain:

Frank Rijkaard, the national football team coach, is committed to completing his contractual obligations unless “officials at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation have other ideas.”

The Greens’ coach, speaking to Al-Hayat Arabic daily, attributed recent poor performances by the national team to the weak soccer structure at youth and junior levels in the Kingdom.

Well, they only have one idea: blame the foreign coach for the failure, never themselves. Also, am I the only one who find it sad that the national team is no longer nicknamed “the Green Falcons” and now is simply known as “the Greens”? Man, the team that dominated Asia in the 1980’s and 1990’s has been tamed. Badly.

‘Icky’

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AFP reports:

Muslim foreign ministers called Friday for laws against incitement to “religious hatred” as they condemned a blasphemous US-made film that sparked deadly protests.

Ministers from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that freedom of expression had to be used with “responsibility.”

They called on governments around the world “to take all appropriate measures, including necessary legislation against these acts that lead to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence” based on religion.

This has not worked before, and it is unlikely to work this time around either. Good luck passing that resolution in the UN. The ministers should probably read what danah boyd wrote on the subject and think about it:

I’m deeply committed to the value of free speech. I understand its costs and I despise when it’s used as a tool to degrade and demean people or groups. I hate when it’s used to justify unhealthy behavior or reinforce norms that disgust me. But I tolerate these things because I believe that it’s one of the most critical tools of freedom. I firmly believe that censoring speech erodes a society more than allowing icky speech does. I also firmly believe that efforts to hamper free speech do a greater disservice to oppressed people than permitting disgusting speech. It’s a trade-off and it’s a trade-off that I accept. Yet, it’s also a trade-off that cannot be taken for granted, especially in a global society.

Emphasis mine.