Only 12% of those going through Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program — Munasaha — for those arrested for terrorism-related crimes go back to their ways, the Ministry of Interior says. This is quite a low rate compared to other criminal rehabilitation programs internationally. In the US, overall criminal recidivism rates are around 60%; in the UK, around 50%.
If the figure provided in this Arab News report is accurate, it may mean that a majority of those going through the program were those only marginally involved in terrorism, but who were swept up in various anti-terror campaigns. Or, it just might be that it is an effective program, designed specifically to address those factors that lead Saudis toward extremism.
Twelve percent of those who had participated in government-run rehabilitation programs for terrorism have relapsed and returned to terror-related activities, a Ministry of Interior official has revealed.
Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said officials at the Prince Muhammad bin Naif Center for Counseling and Care are now trying to determine the causes for these failures.
However, he said the program has been largely successful. Over the past two years more than 2,500 people had participated in the programs, with 80 percent not returning to terrorist activities, he said.
Al-Turki rejected the notion that the program itself caused some to relapse and take part in terror-related activities in the Kingdom. “Without the program, thousands of those who were released would have been exploited by terrorist organizations,” he said.
Arab News runs a story on a report from Vision of Humanity that says 82% of the victim of terrorism are to be found in Muslim countries. The perpetrators are primarily Muslim.
Most of the 18,000 people killed were in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Somalia. Deaths in the rest of the world account for only 16.5% of the total.
A staggering 82 percent of terror-related deaths occurred in five Muslim countries, namely Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria, in 2013, according to a report published by the Vision of Humanity Foundation.
There has been a substantial increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 2013, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).
Almost 18,000 people were killed that year, a 61-percent increase from the previous year, the foundation said.
The report pointed out that four organizations — Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and the Islamic State (IS) — were behind most of the terrorist attacks that year.
“About 90 percent of attacks took place in countries with gross human rights violations,” said the report.
The Gulf Cooperation Council has agreed on a minimum set of contract terms for domestic servants across the six countries, Arab News reports. In addition to setting the hours of work and overtime compensation, the agreement notes that employees are to hold their own passports and will be permitted to live outside their place of work.
Minimum wages were not addressed in the agreement.
GCC labor ministers have agreed on minimum terms in the contracts of domestics to improve the widely criticized working conditions of over 2.4 million foreign maids, an official said.
The move comes as these ministers are to meet with their Asian counterparts in Kuwait City this week to discuss the conditions of foreign labor in the region.
The new contract entitles domestics to a weekly day off, annual leave and the right to live outside their employer’s house, the director general of Kuwait’s Public Manpower Authority, Jamal Al-Dossari, told AFP.
It also limits the working day to eight hours.
Asharq Alawsat reports on the statement by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior that identified ISIS as the perpetrator of the murderous attack on a Shi’ite gathering in Al-Ahsa that killed seven. Direct orders for the attack were given by ISIS leadership, the Ministry claims.
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ordered the attack on a Shi’ite shrine in the small town of Dalwah in the country’s Al-Ahsa governorate earlier this month, which resulted in the deaths of seven Saudi citizens.
Three masked gunmen attacked worshipers at a Shi’ite Husseiniya (meeting house) in the east of the country earlier this month. Riyadh launched a nationwide counterterrorist operation following the attack to track down those responsible, arresting a total of 77 people in successive raids across the country.
The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Monday that the attack on Dalwah was directly ordered by ISIS, and that the terrorist cell’s leader—as well as three other members of the group—have direct links to the terrorist group that is spreading throughout Iraq and Syria.
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that the unnamed head of the terrorist cell had received specific orders from abroad including the target and timing of the attack.
“ISIS is working to destroy everything that it can to incite fitna and chaos in society and destroy the stability of the Kingdom by targeting innocent citizens, as well as religious figures, government officials and government and security infrastructure,” he said.
“Fitna,” an Arabic term meaning “sedition” or “civil strife,” is often associated with particular religious connotations or conflicts between different religious groups or sects. The attack on Al-Ahsa targeted Saudi Shi’ites, with many observers warning this could set off sectarian violence between Saudi citizens. However, the attack was roundly condemned by Saudi Sunni and Shi’ite religious leaders, who have called for steadfastness and unity in the face of such attacks.
Mshari Al-Zaydi comments on the attack and how it has resulted in a strengthening of national sentiment rather than providing a divisive wedge aimed to split Sunnis from Shi’as within the country. Given the large number of the attackers who had already been arrested for terroristic activities, he suggests that the government may wish to re-evaluate its current approach to dealing with terrorist. Recidivism rates for any rehabilitation program tend to be high, but in the case of terrorism, the costs can be inordinately high.
ISIS and Al-Ahsa
The long-awaited statement from the Saudi Interior Ministry on the attack on the village of Dalwah in the country’s Al-Ahsa province has finally been issued, shedding more light on this horrific crime.
Before we go into this, let me just say that this dangerous crime targeting innocent people in Dalwah sought to incite sectarian conflict in Saudi Arabia. However, it actually ended up having the opposite effect. In the aftermath of the incident we saw popular and official alignment under the banner of national solidarity and the protection of civil peace.
Some well-known figures who have made a habit of sectarian incitement tried via social media to muddy the waters and put forward a false picture of what happened, speculating that this was not a political or terrorist crime, but that it contained personal dimensions. These so-called “preachers” and media figures are like the intellectual writers who appeared during the cultural Sahwa (Islamic Awakening) period in the late 1980s, who thought that what they were doing would make things better, but ultimately had the opposite effect.
It was always clear that the terrorist attack on the village of Dalwah in Al-Ahsa had all the hallmarks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This is something that I said openly at the time, when others would preface talk about this crime by saying, “if it turns out to be a terrorist attack in the first place.” This is nonsense; for if it wasn’t ISIS, then who do they think was responsible? The Japanese Red Army? Basque Separatists?
This post just notes a strange little quirk in Saudi media practice.
A Saudi retail company had several of its branches shut down by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry following complaints about a fraudulent “discount” sale wherein products had their prices marked up, then an advertised discount applied.
Saudi Gazette reported on the event, but chose to not publish the name of the company, referring to it only as a “mega” company:
The report from Arab News, on the other hand, did cite the company’s name, if not in the headline, then in the first sentence of the first paragraph:
Saudi custom is to not publish the names of those people or companies that are accused of wrong-doing. Is that custom breaking down? I think it would be a good thing if it did as it would offer much greater transparency about exactly what is going on in the country.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, is noted for having said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” It seems that the sentiment applies when it comes to Saudis and abayas, according to this report from Arab News.
Dammam University, in the Eastern Province city of that name, appears to have issues with non-black abayas. The claim is that colored abayas detract from the dignity of the university. M’kay… I guess it could be analogized to a ban on wearing shorts and flip-flops at an American university, not that any but a religiously-affiliated university would seek to impose such a ban. But all universities in Saudi Arabia are religiously-affiliated, in one way or another.
I do find it peculiar, though, that though “modesty” is being imposed by head-to-toe coverings, the actual color of the coverings matters. Does a blue or green abaya conceal less than a black one? This might be an interesting research project for one studying physics or optics or human psychology.
Dammam University has launched a campaign against colorful abayas after a number of girls were caught without the customary black outer covering mandatory in educational institutions.
Supervisors at Dammam University confirmed that the campaign against the wearing of colored abayas had begun in all their colleges. They pointed out that although colored abayas are easily available in the market, female students are required to abide by the rule of wearing black as a sign of respect to the educational environment.
Female students also said that supervisors and security employees had begun implementing the campaign since last week and that any girl found in violation of the rule would be penalized. They also said that they had been warned that all violations would be documented and filed. They were also expected to abide by the instructions which authorities say promote modesty in dress and appearance.
While the need for women to work in Saudi Arabia is apparent, not all Saudis are comfortable with the idea, particularly if it involves women working outside the home or — gasp! — working with unrelated males.
Saudi Gazette reports that at least women’s working in hotels is becoming more acceptable. The broader society is no longer (or at least, not as much) jumping to conclusions about those women’s morality. Not only does this make it easier for women to take up the jobs, but hoteliers report that women make better employees, less likely to change jobs.
Stigma of Saudi women working in hotels gradually disappearing
Saudi Gazette report
AL-KHOBAR – A group of Saudi women who have been working in the hotel industry said the stigma attached to women in this field is disappearing, Al-Hayat daily reported.
Until a few years ago, women in such jobs were frowned upon by many members of society. As a result, few women worked in the hotel industry because of fears that they would find it difficult to get married as most men disapproved of marrying hotel employees, especially receptionists.
However, the past four years have seen a gradual shift in the negative views associated with hotel industry jobs, thanks to the Ministry of Labor’s laws requiring hotels to hire more women.
Foaz Al-Zahrani, director of marketing for a hotel in Dammam, said women working in the hospitality industry are viewed with more respect today as they have shown to the world they can be trustworthy and professional. “No doubt the ministry’s regulations have helped in changing the negative view on us,” Al-Zahrani said.
Arab News runs two pieces today that seek to show that Saudi law applies to all, the mighty included.
One concerns a prince (unnamed) who has been sentenced to death for killing another. The article seems to go to great lengths explaining that a death sentence is not necessarily final. Not only is there an appeals process, but the family of the victim can waive the death penalty.
The second reports that the Saudi BinLaden company — one of the country’s largest construction firms — is being penalized for not abiding by labor regulations. It is losing access to Ministry of Labor databases until it corrects its behavior and comes into compliance with the regulations.
Al-Arabiya TV, which is owned by the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), writes about new efforts to take down satellite TV stations that run pirated materials. It is estimated that 10% of all Arab satellite broadcasters run programs for which they do not own the rights. This affects those stations that have paid for those materials… to the tune of $10 million/year, according to MBC.
While efforts have been made throughout the region to stop the theft of intellectual property, they have primarily focused on counterfeiting consumer goods and bootleg computer software.
Pirate TV: 47 ‘illegal’ Arab stations taken off air
Ben Flanagan | Al Arabiya News, Abu Dhabi
Almost half the Arab world’s ‘pirate’ TV stations have been taken off air, as legitimate media companies battle a problem they say costs them $100 million a year.
A total of 96 channels that allegedly broadcast pirated material were active in August – accounting for almost 10 per cent of the total number of channels available in the Middle East.
But 47 of these are no longer broadcasting following efforts by an industry coalition dedicated to fighting piracy, said Sam Barnett, chief executive of MBC Group.
“Nobody wants to deal with organized crime, which is what it is,” the executive told Al Arabiya News. “We’re fighting a long battle, but we have had progress.”
The UNDP marks Saudi Arabia as having jumped from 57th place to 34th place in its 2014 report on global human development, Arab News reports:
The 2014 Human Development Report by the UN Development Program reported that Saudi Arabia achieved a significant progress by ranking in the 34th globally, compared to its previous 57 rank in the UNDP report of 2013. Such a rank boosted its position and qualified the Kingdom to join high human development index countries.
The Kingdom also ranked second on the Arab and Gulf levels, and 10th within the G-20 countries, reflecting a positive development, which the nation must build on to improve its future ranking on the Human Development Index launched in 1990.
An analytical study prepared by the Supreme Economic Council on the realities of Saudi Arabia, included in the human development report 2014 which was entitled
“Sustaining Human Progress, Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” confirmed that despite the improvement made during the march of the economic and social development in the Kingdom, the composite of evidence and the other evidences on the country’s ranking, in addition to the results of opinion polls made on the satisfaction degree concerning the human element, all such factors indicated that the Kingdom’s ranking could be improved and boosted.
Saudi Gazette translates a piece from the Arabic daily Al-Madinah in which the writer warns that extremists groups are turning the word “Islamic” into a warning flag. The groups take a well-known brand and convert it to their own uses while completely ignoring what the brand is supposed to represent. As a result, would-be consumers need to do more than just accept the branding and pay attention to what’s really being sold.
Unfortunately, the point of the article seems to have gone over the head of commenters to the piece. They’re sold on the brand, no questions asked or even considered.
Beware of the ‘Islamists’
Qaisar Metawea | Al-Madinah
WE are, by our very nature, a conservative Muslim society. We, therefore, feel attracted toward anything Islamic.
With bad intentions, some of us have used others’ natural love for Islam and for everything Islamic to make personal, sectarian, political, social or commercial gains.
Some of the exploiters of our love for everything Islamic started using the word “Islamic” to defend their unholy actions and ideas against any critique. They will begin their conversation with you by using the word “Islamic” to tie themselves to Islam and to make you believe that they are the sole representatives of this great religion.
An exploiter of Islam will easily convince you that he is a true Muslim even if he abuses, attacks or kills because these abhorrent deeds are an “Islamic” demand.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor has restated its ruling that women employed in the private sector are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave. Those women who have been with the company for three or more years get full pay for the period; those with less, get half-pay, but do not lose vacation pay.
The report in Saudi Gazette also notes that women now comprise 11.6% of the Saudi workforce, up from 2.7% in 2010-2011.
10-week paid maternity leave in private sector
Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor has defended private sector employees’ right to maternity leave by saying any woman who works in the private sector should receive a maternity leave of four weeks prior to her due delivery date and six weeks following the delivery.
The entire period of maternity leave should be fully paid if the employee has been working with the same employer for three years.
An official source at the ministry told Al-Madina daily that employers are required to pay female employees half their salaries during the 10-week maternity leave if they have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. Salaries are due before employees take their maternity leave.
“Employers do not have to give their female employees paid annual vacation if an employee availed of maternity leave with full salary. Employees who only received half salaries during maternity leave should get the due half salaries during annual vacation,” he said.