*Dawn (Karachi) reported that the Council of Saudi Ulema (clergy) issued a fatwa that prohibits attacks by Muslims on non-Muslims. The ruling says that one could not just arbitrarily term persons “infidels” and then make them targets. It specifically referred to the bombing of buildings, ships, and public and private facilities in such a way as to kill innocents. Tthis stance is a traditional one for the Saudi ulema, but the timing of the fatwa just before the second Gulf war is significant. I have not seen it reported at Arab News or Asharq al-Awsat or other likely venues, and it certainly wasn’t noticed in the Western press.
* Dina Wadi reports in Asharq al-Awsat from Cairo that journalist Ibrahim as-Sahari of al-`Alam al-Yawm has been jailed by the security forces. He has been active in criticizing the looming American war in Iraq and the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. The Union of Newspaper Writers has protested the incarceration to the Egyptian government, saying it should have been informed before the arrest and that he should not be questioned without one of their representatives being present.
The Center for Socialist Studies also condemned the jailing and reiterated its protest of the arrest of 8 socialist party members at a demonstration in Sayyida Zaynab in the middle of last month. These arrests were made under the Emergency Law used for the last 22 years, which the Center urged be abolished. I would just note that there has been friction between the US and the Mubarak government over human rights issues, and President Bush himself complained about the jailing of human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim. But is this honeymoon with human rights in Washington now at an end?