Kill ’em Infidels!! The Fatwas

12 07 2009

(from Part 1)

The prevalent attitude of the Saudi ruling family pertain to something like “do what you want to do, just let us do what we want to do. If you interfere in what we want to do, you get snapped”. Consider it a zero-tolerance, mutual existence governance. In order to defer the responsibility of running the country, the govt has many councils and committees who act almost-independently, working to keep the country running, while the Saud family do what they do best. This manifests itself as a collection of organizations that are one another’s peers and have their own fields of activity, working independently, sometimes overlapping. Conflicts are often resolved on a case-to-case basis, often with the intervention of a Saud family member, since no governing rule exists. Placeholding rules are there, but they are precisely that, placeholders.

This has given the CPVPV (and other councils/committees) a very free hand to do whatever they want to do. And since the CPVPV has learnt which toes not to step on, they run pretty much scot free. The fatwas they decide to get implemented, they do themselves, since they have their own force, no police co-op required. And since words are cheap, they say pretty much whatever they want to. Add to this mix the cold-war with the al-Azhar university to become the official voice of Islam, and you have a plothera of fatwas, left and right. Below are some of the more wonderfully stupid samplings. Note: I do NOT follow, believe, nor promote these in any way. Sources might be biased. Make your own decisions.

Shias are infidels. The scholars are definitely infidels, the people, unknown.

...unislamic pic unrelated...

All Shias are infidels

Pokemon is haraam.

Saudi Women must cover one eye.

Pet animals are a threat to morality

OK to slap wives

Pigeon-breeding forbidden: act of sodomites

Soccer is forbidden.

Mice are to be exterminated: Mickey Mouse is haraam

Travelling haraam during Swine ‘flu

International Jihad haraam

Women-only health clubs haraam (arabic)

Women cannot go online without a male guardian

Women can hit back: outrage over fatwa

Cheating on non-Muslim wives/women okay

Islamic banking unIslamic (okay, this one is from Pakistan)

and so on…

I’m sure if there are any reader from the Kingdom, they’ll attest to the day-to-day challenges and issues that arise out of a simple inconvenience of following rules and regulations that are quite unique in the Islamic world. True, that following the Islamic law to the spirit is not very prevalent in the current world scenario, but there are places where that does happen, and it does not look anything like what SA has going on.

The ruling hierarchy in SA most often than not turns a blind eye on these rulings. In individual cases, their acts can overrule the religious fatwa (such as the release of the film produced by a Prince, support for soccer, traveling to the USA during swine flu season etc), but not vice versa. Also, they have the luxury of getting fatwas issues, such as fatwas against a few writers who were critical of the Saudi regime. After all, they are the rulers, right.

But the religious faction is all set to exercise its ruling rights too. Sweeping powers to issue laws and get them implemented does get to the head after a while. Currently, the Saud family has managed to curb the need-to-rule of the religious fraternity, but this need has previously, and again shall rise. The religion-fuelled activities in the wake of 9/11 led to some activity which was squashed. Something might gel them again. Think of it as two balloons with equal length strings in the same hand, both trying to occupy the same place and constantly bumping into one another.

The Saud family’s bump is currently stronger.

-FK





Mixing it up…

1 07 2009

DSC00956

… at the ROP traffic police office in Qurum. The window, for women only, being ‘manned’ by women, had 2 male customers! OTOH, he ‘did’ have his wife/a female with him, I suppose.

Lately, I’ve noticed that seeing the tiny queues and exclusive counters for women, some men just melt into the background and send the womenfolk to get whatever done. I’ve seen this happening at ticket counters and a lot at govt. offices. What gives? Is this ok?

P.S. Is it allowed to take photos in govt. public service offices?

-FK





“To be Pissed or not to be Pissed”

23 06 2009

That’s what I get paid. Obviously, I’m generalizing. And then again, it might not be true, but still.

My current dilemma/pissed-offness stems from a query whether I’m being paid by my company (company 47) for the time I spend on my seat? Am I being paid for the work that I do? Is my payscale determined by my job responsibilities? Or by my job profile @ 8 hours per day?

If I were to lean to time-based payments, then there would be an overtime policy in-place. But there isn’t. I can work my ass off and go home at 12 pm and return at 7 am continuously, and I won’t be paid a single dime extra for it. But if it is work based, then there are no major milestone policies in-place. (There is something initiated and loosely applicable within my department only, but that’s something we’ve implemented ourselves, just to help the annual employee evaluation process be transparent-er). It is not something at the corporate/company level.

So, time or work? There are circulars floating around requiring not to leave before off-time and to come at on-time. There is also a card/fingerprint timing system in place. So that means it is time-based. But then why no overtime?

Associated problem: The management is not required to use the timing system, nor are they required to be in on time. That comes with the fact that official functions can, and do, carry over into the night, often requiring 12/14 hour days. But I have a management-member-boss who implements to 9-5 on himself. He is there, bright and shiny, always before 9, and leaves after 5. He mentions that whenever he leaves his office, he does mention it to his boss (who is the penultimate boss, btw); so he expects us to do the same. So, governed by management rules, I am not required to follow the 9-5; governed by boss-rules, I’m expected to follow the 9-5, strictly, and the mgmt-member-boss always has himself as an example.

Come end of month this month, I see red-marks all over my presence sheet. Asking for an explanation gets me the “I come at 8:30” mini-speech,  and now I’m stuck, weirded out, and pissed.

What to do?

-FK





Muscati in New York Times

17 05 2009

There is, undoubtedly, interest in Oman at the moment. The international media, having ravished itself on the UAE, dissed SA, ogled Kuwait & Qatar, beaten the Iraqi and Irani dead horse, are now turning their eyes on another niche of the center of the world.

This interest is manifesting itself in the form of articles about Oman in international dead-tree media.

NYTimes has a not-so-positive article. That’s the bad part. I won’t rant on the article, coz its ‘so’ rantable that I’d have to forget all semblance of completing my work today and then ‘urgh-ing’ all the day tomorrow.

But the point of notice of this post is:

A recently amended law allows the government to prosecute anyone associated with a Web site or blog that posts anything objectionable, not just the writer.[…] A blogger was sentenced last month to 10 days in jail after posting on a public forum a confidential government document[…]

This links to Muscati’s post in Omanforum, circa 1999.

Yayy!! Lots of hits!

-FK





Inflation: Down, Reserves: Up

27 04 2009

Oman has lots ‘o’ money. Which is good, ‘coz inflation drops. And it did (bottom half). As for the budget surplus, I really can’t tell what to do with it. Medical services is one field that comes to mind. I’m still being harangued by these private medical clinics whose interest lies more in the bottom line rather than sick people. I really do think that education (specially higher and professional education), medical services and emergency/civil services are very much no-go areas for private companies. NO, at all costs. Since in these areas the quality of service provided HAS to be dependant on nothing, not something as stupid as the bottom line, comparatively. A person’s knowledge level/mental treatment, physical treatment and saving lives has no value. Private entities are going to squeeze you for it. Who can easily stop using a medicine or forego the fire brigade just ‘coz he/she can’t pay for it?

Anyhooo, we have a surplus. Maybe we can get a govt-run hospital where expats are allowed? Allowed peace of mind?

This should be apicture of a newspaper clipping!

This should be a picture of a newspaper clipping! http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/09/04/13/10303653.html

Menafn reports that Oman’s inflation index has decreased from 9.4% to 7.9%. They say this is due to lower prices of crops, fuel and other thingies. The break down of the General Index is interesting:

Jan 2008: 9.4%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Jan 2009: 8.1%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Foodstuff, soft drinks & tobacco:  -1.7%

Crops & Products to:  -2.1%

Meat & Poultry:  -1.5%

Oil & Fats:  -2%

Fisheries:  -5.3%

Milk & Products:  -2.7%

Transport & Communications Group:  -0.1%

Personal commodities & other service:  +4.9%

Textile, readymade garments, shoes, medical services & education services: +-0%

House leasing, electricity, water and fuel:  +0.2%

Furniture & Households:  +0.4%

Recreational & Cultural services:  +0.2%

Go Fish!

-TFK





Omani Blogger Trial – Released

25 04 2009

Ali al-Zuwaidy has been released. Gulf News managed to get a few words out of him:

“I have mixed feelings,” Ali told Gulf News later but pledged that he would continue Blogging albeit with some more restraint.

“The judge in his judgement did say about freedom of expression but also added that it must come with responsibility and authenticity,” Ali said, adding that henceforth he would be more guarded.

At the same time, he added, he would not hesitate to criticise.

Ali said that the trial period was tough and yesterday morning before the verdict, his blood pressure went up considerably. “I am relived now and have already posted an entry on Sablat,” he revealed.

He said that he was unlikely to appeal his conviction. On his acquittal, he said he was happy that the judge exonerated him. On possibility of Omantel or Dr Al Woahibi appealing against his acquittal in the first charge, he said that he doesn’t see that happening. “Dr Al Wohaibi is no longer the Omantel CEO and I think the matter has ended here,” he reckons.

He, however, wondered about the true identity of the Blogger Booz Allen, who posted the entry accusing and criticising the Omantel CEO. “I have feeling it was some insider and close to him and with excellent IT knowledge,” he believes. The authorities’ efforts to trace his IP address led them to Berlin as the Blogger had cleverly masked his IP.

“When the post was first blocked by me I was reminded of my belief in freedom of expression by the other Bloggers and I ran it,” he says about the post that put him in prison for 11 days and had to endure the trial period.

So much for listening to others. Carry on kiddo!

-TFK





Omani Blogger Trial – Verdict

23 04 2009

We have a verdict. As expected, no news in the local papers. As expected, the international media knows more than we do. As kinda unexpected, websites are copying the same news article (1) (2) (3) (4)etc.

Anyway, the verdict gave us mixed results. On the two counts that he was indicted on, Ali was found Not Guilty of defamation in the allowing-the-anonymous-post case. It might not be easy peasy, but it is certainly not very impossible to get hold of the anonymous poster who posted that post (eh!). But I don’t think the effort and amount of work justifies the target. He was acquitted, right.

In the 2nd, kinda into the mix mixed case of the leaked Ministers Council memo, Ali was found Guilty, albeit it was Lightly Guilty since he was fined 200 R.O and 11 days in prison. And on top of that he was allowed to walk since he has already been in gaol for 11 days previous following his arrest.

Whilst the defamation case was brought on and tried because it was a legal case filed with the Public Prosecutor’s office, the memo case was not legally filed by anyone. Or maybe it was filed in a high-level phone call. And since the Omantel CEO has left office, maybe the case was allowed to fizzle out. But a statement needs to be made about leaking memos and tryna make things transparent! What were you thinking Ali??! I was of the impression that we competed with SA and Kuwait for media freedom, but after Muscati and a review of the stories their press publishes, I stand corrected. They even can give headlines like “Woman Beheaded for Killing Hubby“.

Not much of a Hubby if you not only kill, but behead him, eh!! *shudder*

Edit: There’s a comment thread going on at Muscati’s blog. My comment has ballooned so I’ll post it fully here.

Suburban says:Words fail to describe how dissapointed I am with the government, and the MOI in particular, with this case. I really thought we were different from Saudi, Egypt and China. I fear this is the thin end of the wedge.

I don’t think so. After all, we ‘are’ talking about Oman here right. Its not as if this was some landmark human rights case where the rights of ‘journalists’ was on the line. It was more of a strict scolding from Big Brother on the little one getting out of line. “Didn’t delete the post? Make that a option next time. Leaked the memo? Bad Boy! 2 spanks on the butt”

While I’m not downplaying the importance all this holds, but you really can’t hinge rights, principles & laws on majorly (kinda) impromptu trials, sporadic trial sessions and vague ambiguous laws that are open to interpretation both ways. Obviously Big Brother is going to get the final say.

Of course, it would have been landmark & groundbreaking if we knew that no matter what Big Brother’s preferences, if the verdict based on facts was pointing against BB, it would be announced and the case decided as such.

Since I can’t go through the al-Shabiba article without crutches, moral support and a bottle of Tylenol, so I’ll just use Google Translated version here.

Before sentencing the judge said in a speech addressed to the presence of most of the writers and literary freedom of expression in the country, stressing that the laws that have been developed not to stifle freedom of expression, but to regulate [it].

Now, can someone tell me what regulation does to freely expressed speech? Stifles it? “Corrects it to be socially and morally acceptable”?

Alkiomip smile and have a lawyer at the Zweidi satisfaction of government as a victory for freedom of expression and said that this demonstrates the impartiality of the judiciary Oman.

The lawyer smiles Alkiomi that it expected the patent to the first charge and the second was expected with a conviction, noting that the judge did not disappoint them to defend it

The General of the Omani writers and literary in a statement issued yesterday that the rule of Oman through the elimination, and with full transparency, the high awareness on the Elimination of Oman and is based on the deepest understanding of the spirit of the law, and a genuine vision of the breadth of many of the texts.

Of course! Why not! Obviously!

-TFK