Monthly Archives: March 2012

An afternoon in the desert


A sudden rain; the colors change.

After the rain.

The road home…preempted by goats.

While the camels remain sedately in the distance.


Destroy all churches, says Saudi’s top religious authority

Via Crossroads Arabia:

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” following Kuwait’s moves to ban their construction…..

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.

Apparently this is nothing new.  There are churches in Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE; Saudi religious and government authorities have been calling for their destruction since at least 2001.

So far there has been little comment in the U.S. mainstream press.

Christian bishops in Germany, Austria and Russia have issued separate statements sharply criticized the ruling.

Image: Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh.  [Source.]

There are a couple of opinion pieces worth mentioning: one in the Washington Post, pointing out a 628 Charter given by the prophet Muhammad for the protection of the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai; the San Bernadino Sun mentions the St. Catherine’s charter as well as an event where the Christians of Najran were invited to worship at the Prophet’s own mosque in Medina; an opinion piece in the Nation adds information about the social contract of Medina drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad in 622 CE as one of civil, not Islamic government.


Ok, 53 women injured and 1 dead in the Abha protests. Here’s what happened, as far as I can figure. And then I will post a link to a truly frightening video of 400 women in black abayas screaming and demonstrating.

Day 1 (Tuesday) Female students protest garbage lying around the campus (the people who pick up the trash were fired.) They are then forbidden to buy water or bring water bottles on campus.

Day 2 (Wednesday) The women demonstrate. Female security attack them with water hoses and fire extinguishers. Male religious police enter campus (this is being denied, according to local rumor) and beat the women with sticks. The women throw shoes at them, take away the sticks and hoses, beat their attackers, drive them off campus, and lock the gates.

Weekend (Thursday and Friday)

Day 3 (Saturday) Male students demonstrate. Many arrests. Students stop answering their phones. The governor agrees to meet with (male) students.

Now imagine you are a member of the religious police and are armed with a stick, and you see this group of women advancing towards you dressed all in black with nothing showing but their eyes….


One of these camels was milked for me and I sipped warm camel milk from a bowl. Tastes like yogurt, very musty.

Traveling south

Najran has one street, 15 km long, sometimes described as the longest street in the world, connecting Yemen and Riyadh. Except the street goes from east to west. Go figure.

What is the latest Paris “Fasion” for women ?  Apparently it is the black abaya, with sequins.

A newish building, with an old flavor, recalling turrets and crenelated walls.

An older building, I think with mud walls.

Under construction.

Seeing is believing.

Mud fort in the middle of a field.  I think these are the qasr or “castles” for defense against the nearby border.

Another older building, mud again, I think.

Strip mall.  All items of the same type are grouped together.  In this case, a row of shops selling fabric for the white robes all the Saudi men wear.

More architecture inspired by the castle motif.  In the foreground are two feral puppies, a very unusual sight for this country.

The hills may be greener than up north, but there is no proper sunset. The sun still disappears into the cloud of sand on the horizon.