"Turning Mecca into Las Vegas"
Saudi Wahhabis Continue Assault on Islamic Heritage
Saudi plans indicate that commercial ambitions outweigh the protection of the spiritual and cultural history of Islam.
Wahhabi extremists and property developers affiliated with the Saudi authorities are furthering plans to demolish the oldest sections of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the location to which all the world's Muslims turn in prayer. They apparently intend to remove features of the site dating back many centuries, such as columns placed in the Grand Mosque during the eighth century CE. Also, porticos designed by the legendary Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan (c. 1489/1490-1588 CE), whose achievements, and those of his personal disciples, are found at many places in the Islamic culture area, from Bosnia-Hercegovina to India, are slated for destruction.
Public dismay about the proposed wrecking, to be done under the pretext of renovation and modernization, has been notable. In response, the Imam and Friday preacher of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, a prominent Wahhabi fanatic and hatemonger, has promised that the areas of the Grand Mosque originating in the Abbasid Arab caliphate (750-1258 CE) and the Ottoman period of rule in Mecca and Medina would not be touched.
Al-Sudais, head of the official Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques, and with the rank of a minister in the royal court, has told the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat [The Middle East] that the remodeling of the Grand Mosque, would be completed over three years, and would be limited to minor expansions intended to make tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'bah, the sacred structure at the center of the mosque) easier during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. He stipulated that "removal will be limited to (the first Saudi expansion, 60 years ago), without disturbing the Ottoman porticos, except for arches and lights…maintaining the old area, reduced in proportion to align with the zone of circumambulation." However, some of the Abbasid and Turkish area including the portico's have already been demolished, and authorities stated that these portico's will inadvertently have to be removed during expansion work between the two hills of Safa and Marwa.
The Saudi dailies Okaz and Saudi Gazette reported that construction work on the Grand Mosque already commenced in mid-November, with the Saudi Gazette boasting, in the idiom of architectural gigantism favored currently in Saudi Arabia, that the project includes "the two largest tower cranes ever built in the 21st century in the eastern and western parts of the mosque."
A cable-car system has also been proposed to serve old and disabled pilgrims by linking the mataf, at which pilgrims walk around the Ka'bah, with the masa'a, a location where Hajj participants run symbolically between two hills, Safa and Marwa. Again reflecting the Saudi fascination with oversized construction works, the Saudi Gazette asserted that upon its completion the Grand Mosque would accommodate 130,000 pilgrims per hour in the march around the Ka'bah. The current average is 52,000 per hour.
As noted in the Arab News, the top floor of the mataf would be altered to add a moving walkway carrying pilgrims around the Ka'bah. The new plan would provide access to the circumambulation area from outside the walls of the Grand Mosque, without crossing the floor of the mosque. Bridges and pedestrian lanes are to be included in the structure to "reduce crowding" during the Hajj, at the same time as, illogically, the Wahhabis claim they will greatly expand the capacity for pilgrims.
Saudi and other Muslim sources express concern that Al-Sudais and his Wahhabi accomplices are lying about their intentions in the project. Dr. Hatoon Al-Fassi, a female Meccan native, distinguished Sufi, and history professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, who, let it be noted, refuses to cover her face in public with the Wahhabi-imposed niqab or face veil, has accused the Saudi Bin Laden construction conglomerate, which is supervising the rebuilding of the mosque, of seeking to "turn Mecca into Las Vegas." Specifically, Al-Fassi charges that the reconstruction plans include "tearing down the ancient Ottoman-style galleries and rebuilding 'identical' galleries further away." Al-Fassi cites an unnamed official of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj Affairs as the source of this information.
Al-Fassi alleges further that the new galleries would support "new towers… featuring hotels, restaurants, and malls."
The precincts of the Grand Mosque already include new buildings, which house a clock tower and hotel complexes that dwarf the Mosque and the Ka'bah. Saudi plans indicate that commercial ambitions outweigh the protection of the spiritual and cultural legacy of Islam.
In an admission that the grandiose refurbishing of Mecca has harmed the Islamic heritage of the sacred city, Muhammad Abdullah Idris, author of the architectural upgrading study, told the Arab News that demolition blasts during erection of the outsized and overbearing recent structures near the Grand Mosque have undermined the strength of the mosque and, especially, its pillars.
Saudi King Abdullah ordered a halt to a proposed expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina after a major article was published in The Independent (London) by the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, exposing the Wahhabi plans and opposing to the concept. The article was re-published worldwide by other newspapers and generated significant media coverage. The Medina expansion would have involved serious historical vandalism. It is to be hoped that similar opposition will move the King to halt the defacement of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Aerial view of the Abbasid Portico's in Mecca.
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|"Turning Mecca into Las Vegas" [23 words]||Ninetyninepct||May 12, 2014 17:30|
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
A quick internet search, if you typed "mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni," would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.
by Bassam Tawil
What is sad is that the Gazans have not yet been able to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas.
The world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel that threatens the Arab and Muslim world and the major cities of Europe.
The Western world also seems not to understand that it has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding terrorism, such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey, for whom the Palestinian problem is only a pretext on the way to destroying the Western world as we know it and replacing it with only Islam.
by Burak Bekdil
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll have been if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets?
Underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means, for the moment, Hamas cannot kill.
by Soeren Kern
Austria figures prominently in a map produced by the IS that outlines the group's five-year plan for expanding its caliphate into Europe, and has emerged as a central hub for jihadists seeking to fight in Syria.
"The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist." — Austrian intelligence agency BVT.
"Allah also gives you the opportunity to wage jihad in Austria." — Austrian jihadist Firas Houidi.
"We are proud that Allah has chosen us. We feel like lions." — Austrian jihadist Abu Hamza al-Austria.