How Reliable is the information about the al Bustanji Controversy?

August 12, 2013

Posted on the web is a video of an interview of a Jordanian Imam named Riyadh Al Bustanji, in Arabic. The interview took place on 22 June 2012 on Al-Aqsa TV, the official television station of Hamas.  The video, subtitled in English, was posted and translated by MEMRI Tv, (

MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) is a non-profit organization co-founded by a former Mossad officer, Yigal Carmon, which translates articles from Arabic into English.

The impartiality of MEMRI has been doubted and questions have been raised by Brian Whitaker of the British newspaper The Guardian, in an article from 2012, the organization’s impartiality has also been questioned by the political leader Beppe Grillo.

Thousands of Muslims Celebrate the End of Ramadan in Milan

August 8, 2013


Several thousand Muslims gathered in the Arena Civica in Milan, from 8 in the morning to pray during  Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. The rain did not deter the faithful and they said the traditional prayer of the day. Ramadan is a time of fasting and a time to support the purification of the soul and body. Imam Shaykh Riyadh Bustanji lead the celebration. Women prayed under a gazebo, decorated for the occasion. The City of Milan was represented by the Councillor for Culture, Francesco Cappelli.

French Designers Seek to Break Burqa Stereotypes

As France takes steps towards banning the burqa, Paris designers are staging their own unveilings in the Middle East. Saks Fifth Avenue of Riyadh pull designer abayas with the labels of Paris fashion houses. French labels by John Galliano of Dior as well as Nina Ricci and Jean Claude Jitrois appear on abayas adorned by Swarovski crystals and elaborate embroidery. They range in price for $2,000 to $2,500 for ready-to-wear, while a couture abaya with a coordinating veil could go for as much as $11,500.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that French fashion is wading into the burqa debate. Givenchy is sending models down runways with their faces covered to protest the government’s stance.

Berlin and Riyadh agree anti-terrorism pact

Germany and Saudi Arabia have agreed an unprecedented cooperation pact to exchange information on possible terrorists, the German embassy in Riyadh confirmed Thursday. The intelligence-sharing will encompass possible terrorist financing and money-laundering, the two governments agreed, in a deal signed Wednesday evening in the Saudi capital.

The agreement was signed by German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his Saudi counterpart Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz. Schaeuble said that the son of the prince, Prince Mohammed bin Naif Abdulaziz, who is a deputy interior minister, and the former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, would be invited to Thursday night’s G8 meeting of interior ministers in Rome. The pair also discussed the case of the Saudi scholar Abdullah ibn Jibreen, a member of the Standing Committee for Fatwa and Research. Ibn Jibreen is currently in Berlin, undergoing medical treatment. Some Shiites from Iraq want to see proceedings opened against the Sunni cleric for his fatwas allegedly insulting those of the Shiite faith and for calling Muslims to take up arms in Iraq. According to the Saudi daily al-Iktisadiya, Prince Naif told the German delegation that the allegations against Ibn Jibreen were false and also that he held no public office in Saudi Arabia.

Key Words: Anti-Terrorism, Terrorism, Extremism, TopStories

Earth Times

Italy to help establish biomedical institute

Letizia Moratti, the mayor of Milan, announced plans to acquire what she called a world-class facility and biomedical institute, under an agreement between the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and a top oncology institute in Milan. Moratti recently made an official visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in an effort to strengthen ties between the two nations in fields of education and culture. The institute will enroll Saudi students for higher studies and research, with an initial enrollment of up to 150 students according to Moratti.

Moderates attack ‘fundamentally wrong’ approach to teaching Islam

Riyadh ul Haq, who has preached of the evil influence of the West, may be a faithful representative of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam but he does not speak for all Islamic scholars, let alone all Muslims. No one knows that better than Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra. Mr Mogra, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain’s interfaith relations committee, is a graduate of the same Deobandi seminary in Bury, Greater Manchester, that Mr ul Haq attended, but he does not like to call himself a Deobandi. Andrew Norfolk reports.

The Pope and Islam. Is there anything that Benedict XVI would like to discuss?

The New Yorker is publishing a long article on the difficult relationship between the Vatican and Islam. “These are fierce theological times. It should come as no surprise that the Vatican and Islam are not getting along, or that their problems began long before Pope Benedict XVI made his unfortunate reference to the Prophet Muhammad, in a speech in Regensburg last September, and even before the children of Europe’s Muslim immigrants discovered beards, burkas, and jihad. There are more than a billion Catholics in the world, and more than a billion Muslims. And what divides the most vocal and rigidly orthodox interpreters of their two faiths, from the imams of Riyadh and the ayatollahs of Qom to the Pope himself, is precisely the things that Catholicism and Islam have always had in common: a purchase on truth; a contempt for the moral accommodations of liberal, secular states; a strong imperative to censure, convert, and multiply; and a belief that Heaven, and possibly earth, belongs exclusively to them. (…)”