Saudi Arabia Hub




NEWS: Anthony Shadid, Jeremy Lin, Stephen Colbert, And 'The Bodyguard Musical'

Shadid
Road Gary Kamiya's beautiful tribute to deceased Times reporter Anthony Shadid:

... The fate of small people like Karima and her family, unknown, of no political consequence, is easy to forget as nations rush to war and powerful men plan and redraw maps. “Ordinary people are, as Karima recognized, only pawns on a giant board; if one or one thousand of them are swept off, no one notices.” It is one of the functions of journalism, perhaps the noblest, simply to bear witness to these forgotten ones.

Anthony Shadid bore that witness. He died at the age of 43 on the front lines of his profession, of an asthma attack while reporting inside violence-ravaged Syria. He joins the honored list of reporters who gave their lives to give the world the truth. Every journalist, and every American who cares not just the consequences of American wars, but about humanity, owes him a debt. His loss is incalculable.

Road Iran to French and British companies: "No more oil for you." (Saudi Arabia to same French and British companies: "Cool! Buy from us!")

Road Surprising things we learned from Rick Santorum this weekend: 1) It is good for presidents to govern according to a theology; 2) Barack Obama governs according to a theology; 2) But his theology's no good, because it's "not Christian":

Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

Road Harris poll shows that America now believes Ronald Reagan was the greatest president since WWII. NewsMax thinks this is great news.

Road (Naturally, NewsMax is keeping mum on Harris's latest re: Obama's electoral chances.)

Road JoeMyGod on some ugly possible fallout over the Sheriff Babeu story.

Road The Bodyguard Musical. It exists, and has for a while, but it seems to be on a publicity kick this week.

Road Basketball! When the Jeremy Lin-led Knicks concluded their miraculous winning streak with an ugly loss to the Hornets on Friday, ESPN led with the headline "A Chink In The Armor." Those responsible have been terminated.

Road (Just for the record, the armor's fine: This afternoon, Lin and co. beat the league's defending champs up and down the court.)

Garcia Road John Glenn and Project Mercury vets reunite on the 50th anniversary of Glenn's orbital flight.

Road A libertarian TV network?

Road Omaha wants to ban employment discrimination against LGBT employees. Nebraska's legislature wants to stop them.

Road Gael Garcia Bernal will be Zorro.

Road Colbert will resume taping.


Saudi Man Arrested For Arranging Dates With Other Men

Picture 33Last month, a 30-year-old man was arrested by the religious police in Saudi Arabia for using Facebook to pursue dates with other men, according to Gay Middle East. The man, whose name is not being released, was apprehended on December 23rd and is being held by the police in Dammam, on the Persian Gulf, where after what may be assumed to have been harsh interrogations by local authorities he confessed to arranging "obscenity acts" with members of his own sex.

Punishments for such acts in Saudi Arabia could include fines, flogging, imprisonment, and death. The severity of punishments for individual crimes are left to the discretion of Sunni religious authorities, and vary widely depending upon the identity of the offender. From GME:

Conviction and severity of punishments depends on the social class, religion and citizenship of the accused, whereby non-western migrant workers receive usually harsher treatment than upper class Saudi citizens.

Sami Hamwi, Syria Editor of Gay Middle East, and former Saudi resident explains: “Native born Saudi citizens who are Suni or from the Bedouin tribes in the country are often let off, while punishment are severely executed against minorities like Shiites and or newly naturalised citizens. Punishments regarding homosexuality are also held against expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, especially those coming from Asian, African and Arab countries. Dammam is a largely Shiite area and if the 30 year old aforementioned man is a Shiite, he is likely to be trailed and sentenced harshly.”

News of the arrest came as British PM David Cameron embarked on a brief visit to Saudi Arabia. The British government, which in recent months has explicitly tied the well-being of global LGBTs to its foreign policy, was quick to voice concern for the incarcerated Saudi. Wrote a "British Foreign and Commonwealth spokesperson" to GME:

We are aware of the reports and seeking further information. The UK opposes all discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in all circumstances. We are committed to combating violence and discrimination against LGBT people as an integral part of our international human rights work. We believe that human rights are universal and that LGBT people should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which people of all nations are entitled.

What effect, if any, Cameron's visit may have on the incarcerated Saudi is unknown. Because of the opacity of Saudi Arabia's religious courts, the man's trial and punishment may be conducted in secret.


Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Who Fears for His Life Denied Asylum

Ali Ahmed Asseri, a gay former Saudi diplomat living in Los Angeles, who told NBC in September that "if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight," has been denied asylum by the U.S..

SaudiAli al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident in Washington, D.C., told Arab news site Rasheed's World that the Obama administration denied the asylum request because "giving refuge to him might upset relations with the kingdom."

“This was a political decision by the Obama administration, who are afraid of upsetting the Saudis,” said Ahmed in a phone interview. “His initial interview with Homeland Security was very positive, but then they came back and grilled him for two days after they found out that he had worked in the public prosecutor’s office in Saudi Arabia. He had been an inspector to make sure that judicial punishments, such as lashings, were carried out within the law—not more, not less. They then accused him of participating in a form of torture,” explained Ahmed.

Asseri is reportedly planning to appeal the decision.


NEWS: Angelina Directs, Rihanna Digs S&M, Uganda AIDS Situation Grows Dire

Milk&Honey
Road Watch the first preview for In The Land of Blood & Honey, the Bosnian war pic written and directed by Angelina Jolie, AFTER THE JUMP...

Road Saudi heir dies in New York.

Road Generation X is sick of Generation Y's grousing:

... Generation X is tired of your sense of entitlement. Generation X also graduated during a recession. It had even sh**tier jobs, and actually had to pay for its own music. (At least, when music mattered most to it.) Generation X is used to being f***ed over. It lost its meager savings in the dot-com bust. Then came George Bush, and 9/11, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Generation X bore the brunt of all that. And then came the housing crisis.

Generation X wasn't surprised. Generation X kind of expected it.

Road Single-celled organisms measuring 4 inches in length! They're the biggest cells on earth, and they're poisonous.

Road Rihanna departs hotel clutching an "X-rated lesbian bondage manual" ...

Road ... after she dropps over £1,000 in a Parisian S&M shop.

Road This dog has a seeing eye dog. They both need a home.

Road Australian justice: Lady has drunken sex with a 16-year-old, two 14-year-olds, and one 12-year-old. She doesn't go to jail.

Road Australian progress: Acting Premier Andrew Fraser discusses the future of marriage equality in Queensland.

Meerkat

Road Baby meerkats, courtesy of BuzzFeed. Just 'cuz.

Road The sex lives of gay guys are pretty normal.

Road Irish lesbian wedding, deferred by impenetrable legalese.

Road Rosie O'Donnell isn't worried about horrible ratings.

Road Uganda's losing ground in the battle with AIDS.

Road Attorneys! Please refrain from bringing meth to court! Thanks!

Road Some American Idols top charts.

Road Some American Idols lose their record labels.

Road Hitchens: Qaddafi should have lived.

Continue reading "NEWS: Angelina Directs, Rihanna Digs S&M, Uganda AIDS Situation Grows Dire" »


Mile-High Skyscraper, Twice the Height of Burj Khalifa, Gets Go-Ahead

Milehigh

A skysraper twice the height of the world's tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, has been given the go-ahead in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Architizer reports: "Here are some facts: 'Kingdom Tower' will be one mile high. It will contain almost 12 million cubic feet of space. It will be part of a larger urban development built to house about 80,000 people, at a cost of almost 30 billion dollars. Using your average elevator, it would take 12 minutes to reach the zenith."


Gay Saudi Diplomat Seeks Asylum In The United States

NBC News reports on a story about a gay Saudi diplomat living in Los Angeles who is asking the Department of Homeland Security for political asylum in the United States. Ali Ahmad Asseri, who works in the Saudi Consulate in LA, says Saudi officials want him sent back to his home country, where he could face political persecution or death. Asseri, who apparently has also threatened to release "politically embarrassing information about members of the Saudi royal family living in luxury in the U.S.," says that if he returns to Saudi Arabia, he will be killed "openly in broad daylight.”

  NBC News reports:

FlagThe Saudis have also been sharply condemned by the U.S. State Department and human rights groups for religious and political intolerance, including the treatment of gay people. The most recent State Department human rights report on Saudi Arabia notes that, in addition to denying political and religious rights to minorities, “under Sharia (Islamic law) sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is punishable by death or flogging.” While the report stated there was no “official discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation in employment and housing, “sexual orientation could constitute the basis for harassment, blackmail, or other actions.” It noted that in one case reported in a Saudi newspaper three years ago, two men in the Saudi city of Al-Bahah were publicly lashed 7,000 times after being found guilty of sodomy.

Asseri says that his co-workers went out of their way to find out about his homosexuality:

Asseri, in a recent telephone interview, said that has been assigned to the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles for the past five years. His problems began some months ago, he said, when Saudi consulate employees who suspected he was gay began following him to gay bars. They also discovered his close friendship with a Jewish woman from Israel. It was some time after these discoveries, Asseri said, that consulate officials began harassing him, refusing to renew his diplomatic passport or provide him with badly needed medical treatment for a painful back ailment. They also continued to monitor his private life and have demanded that he return to Saudi Arabia.

Asseri officially applied for asylum as a member of a “particular social group" and met with a representative from Homeland Security last month and if it is granted, he would be the first diplomat to receive it in over 15 years.


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