Monday, June 29, 2015

Is Islam inherently opposed to Western liberalism? - Book Review by Samuel Trope - THE HAARTZ

Is Islam inherently opposed to Western liberalism?

That is the crux of a new book by modern Arab politics professor Joseph Massad, which reveals the unspoken cultural assumptions underlying human rights and other NGOs, and should be required reading for them.

By Jun. 30, 2015 | 2:51 AM
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A banner calling for British Muslims not to vote as part of the Stay Muslim Don't Vote campaign
A banner calling for British Muslims not to vote as part of the Stay Muslim Don't Vote campaign is held aloft outside the London Central Mosque in London April 3, 2015. Photo by Reuters
Derrida. Massad calls the French Jewish philosopher an anti-Semite. Photo by AP
By Ayelett Shani May 9, 2015 | 3:45 PM  1
By Haaretz Jun. 6, 2015 | 11:42 PM  16
By Yitzhak Laor Jan. 20, 2015 | 4:20 AM
“Islam in Liberalism,” by Joseph A. Massad, The University of Chicago Press, 384 pages, $40
At the time of his death in 2004, the French Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida had long occupied the pinnacle of academic superstardom. To the many students and scholars who eagerly snatched up every new book and article he authored and flocked to his lectures worldwide, Derrida was prophet, sage and arbiter.
Derrida fathered not only a profoundly influential philosophical and literary approach, popularly known as deconstruction, but also generations of intellectual children: graduate students who broke their teeth on "Writing and Difference" and "Of Grammatology," and grew up to be happy deconstructionists applying Derrida to Gothic novels, architecture or South Asian history.
Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics at Columbia University, is one of those children. As a graduate student in the 1990s at Columbia, he could hardly have avoided being so. Derrida’s influence is tangible in Massad’s latest work "Islam in Liberalism" – in a certain linguistic playfulness; in the constellation of theorists quoted, including Derrida himself; and in a penchant for reading against the grain and searching out the marginal, dangling threads that cause a whole structure, in this case of Western liberalism, to unravel.
It is all the more surprising, then, that in the final chapter of his book Massad calls Jacques Derrida an anti-Semite. This moment is worth dwelling on because Massad’s act of patricide is key to understanding "Islam in Liberalism" – which aims to show how Western liberalism is inherently opposed to Islam – and its flaws.
There is an ethical question that haunts this book, and not only in the context of the accusation against Derrida. It is a question that Massad posed himself, if rhetorically, in a 2001 debate with Israeli historian Benny Morris that was published in the former’s collection "The Persistence of the Palestinian Question." When moderator Andrew Whitehead observed that Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals seem unable to move past their contentious history and establish a dialogue, Massad responded: “How can you reconcile with an enemy who is still repressing you?”
Massad’s answer, in this debate and elsewhere, is that one can’t, and one shouldn’t. Reconciliation, he believes, is tantamount to capitulation; while Zionist colonialism continues, or, on a larger scale, while Western imperialism continues, it is wrong to accept these ideologies’ narratives as legitimate. To do so, or even to vacillate on this point, obscures the fact that justice and solidarity should lie entirely on the side of the oppressed.
Massad’s unwillingness to accept Western liberalism’s altruistic self-definition at face value, his refusal to reconcile, allows him to build a critique that is both insightful and timely. "Islam in Liberalism" argues that European liberalism arose from an imagined dichotomy between the tolerant West and the despotic East, and that the consistent reinforcement of this dichotomy — especially when it comes to gay rights, women’s rights, and democratic freedom — causes Western liberals to feel a burden of responsibility to rescue those suffering under Islam.
While this mission is expressed through the work of international nongovernmental organizations and liberal foundations like Human Rights Watch or the Ford Foundation, in essence it is no different than more traditional forms of imperialism, Massad asserts. Western influence is used to support certain ideologies and social groups in Muslim-majority countries, while maintaining the overall power and capital imbalance between the donor and receiving societies.
"Islam in Liberalism" raises important questions about the power and influence of Western NGOs and the humanitarian missions of Western governments. Massad is on unimpeachable ground in arguing that these institutions are not simply altruistic vehicles for do-goodism, and that those who claim that the West has a mission and a burden to save women, gays, or the oppressed in the Muslim world are necessarily rehashing old Orientalist tropes. In unearthing the unconscious motives and unspoken cultural assumptions underlying human rights and international organizations, "Islam in Liberalism" should be required reading for NGO workers the world over.
But Massad’s unquestioning certainty in his own arguments leads him to a reductive dogmatism. This is especially evident in his harsh criticism of Leila Abu-Lughod, a Columbia University anthropologist whose "Do Muslim Women Need Saving?" raises many of these same questions, while still allowing that a more self-reflective feminism can nevertheless advocate for women’s rights abroad.
Massad’s response is dismissive, staking out the extreme position that the whole project of advocacy is rotten and unsalvageable. Liberal transnational solidarity, he writes, “can only issue from imperialist countries toward the Third World as part of imperial networks... which are not reducible to the human subjects formed by them taking ‘responsibility.’” In other words, no matter how self-aware individual feminists or human rights advocates might be, the unjust international system dictates that their aid efforts only serve to further oppression. Not only does this position reject the notion of individual agency – human choices are not entirely subject to international relations – but, as elsewhere, Massad’s argument lacks nuance: As his many attacks on ideological rivals make clear, one either agrees with his position, or one is an imperialist. There is no middle ground.
What's in a 'dead name'?
Massad’s dogmatism is perhaps most clearly expressed in the book’s last chapter, entitled “Forget Semitism!” This section is devoted to the idea that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a shared heritage in the figure of Abraham – that they are related, Abrahamic religions. Massad, himself a Palestinian born in Jordan, argues that this idea is a liberal mask for colonialism and anti-Semitism. The normalizing, ecumenical ideal of the Abrahamic faiths, he says, is a cover for ongoing political violence.
The section in which Massad accuses Derrida of anti-Semitism is worth quoting in full. Massad first cites a passage from one of Derrida’s writings that mentions Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of Palestinian worshippers. In condemning the violent attack, Derrida refers to the location of the massacre as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Massad's response: “Derrida’s insistence on the use of the dead name of al-Khalil, on calling the Abrahamic Sanctuary by its Jewish colonial terminology (Tomb of the Patriarchs), on claiming the massacre as part of a religious and not a colonial war and contextualizing all this in the 'religions called "Abrahamic”' reveals the explanatory potential of the Abrahamic and what it can and cannot include. For a philosopher like Derrida, so invested in the proper name, to refuse to call Palestinian geography and holy places by their proper Abrahamic names opens him to the probability of a similar charge like the one he leveled against Massignon.”
Massignon is Louis Massignon, the French Catholic Orientalist who was one of the proponents of the Abrahamic faiths. This idea of a shared Abrahamic tradition was also taken up by Derrida, though he expressed his reservations that Massignon’s concept, insofar as it excluded Jews, “leaves us with the feeling of some probability of anti-Semitism.” Massad turns the charge, or the probability, back on Derrida.
This is not the only instance of name-calling in "Islam in Liberalism." It seems anyone who ever challenged the author’s previous scholarship gets their comeuppance in the book’s sarcastic footnotes. Considering how Massad has been the target of character assassination in the past — in particular, in the public scandal that erupted after the 2004 pro-Israel propaganda film "Columbia Unbecoming" accused him and other Arab professors of intimidating Jewish students who supported Israel — these comments in "Islam in Liberalism" might be forgiven, or at least understood.
But the accusation against Derrida is not like these other examples. It comes by way of Massad’s analysis of the history of European racial theory, the idea that there is a category of people called Semites, and this theory’s connections with Orientalism, through Zionism’s adoption of these racial categories as the basis for Jewish nationalism. The Zionist decision to turn the Jews into a nation, as Massad would have it, caused a split between the Jews and Arabs (and, by extension, Muslims in general) who had both been the objects of Semitism and anti-Semitism. It is a split, he writes, between “the Semite who went the way of the Orientalist and the Semite who was forced to go the way of the Oriental.”
Massad calls Derrida an anti-Semite not just for refusing to say “Al-Khalil,” but for denying that Zionism has turned Palestinians into the true Semites and the true victims of its anti-Semitism.
We must remember that the inequality of power between Jews and Palestinians is one of the basic, and often obfuscated, facts of this conflict. Perhaps, indeed, Derrida did not recognize it enough. And yet: “the dead name of Al-Khalil”? Why is the Hebrew name dead? “Hebron” was not a dead name to the Jews who lived there before Israel was founded, and it isn’t a dead name to the Jews who call the city that now. The Jewish settlement in Hebron, even the entire history of Zionism and the occupation, neither make the Hebrew name dead nor means that it deserves death.
Just as Massad reduces liberalism to imperialism, to dismiss the Jewish name as “colonial terminology” is to collapse all of Jewish history and experience into Zionism. There is no possibility, and this is true of "Islam in Liberalism"’s arguments as a whole, that there could be two names, or two kinds of suffering, without one erasing the other.
This is where the absence of Derrida — the real Derrida — is felt most acutely. Derrida was a master of undecidability and the suspension of choice, of deferring and hesitation. This can be seen in his comments on Israel and Palestine that Massad gathers, in which the philosopher both condemns the occupation and confirms Israel’s unimpeachable right to exist; he does come across in the quotes chosen as a waffling politician. But Derrida’s hesitation is not due to uncertainty or dissimulation, but rather to the conviction that true responsibility to others is a necessary but nearly impossible act, full of contradiction.
This is no doubt frustrating for Massad. It is frustrating for all of us who live now, in this time of war. Philosophical hesitation seems a luxury; there is an imperative to make firm commitments, speak them out, and see them through to the end. However, what Massad forgets is ethics, one of the main themes in Derrida’s work (though he did not like the word).
As Jack Reynolds, professor of philosophy at Australia’s Deakin University, has written, for Derrida ethical behavior “is a product of deferring, and of being forever open to possibilities rather than taking a definitive position.” This is precisely the space that "Islam in Liberalism" closes down.
Samuel Thrope’s essays and reviews have appeared in Tablet, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast, and elsewhere. His translation of Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s "The Israeli Republic" is available from Restless Books.
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NIA has failed to gather any fresh proof in Hindu terror cases: Rohini Salian - By Krishna Kumar, ET Bureau - THE ECONOMIC TIMES, MUMBAI, INDIA

The Economic Times

NIA has failed to gather any fresh proof in Hindu terror cases: Rohini Salian

By Krishna Kumar, ET Bureau | 29 Jun, 2015, 05.37AM IST

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MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency has failed to add a single piece of new evidence in the case over Malegaon blasts and other 'Hindu' terror acts, Rohini Salian, special public prosecutor in the case, has alleged.
Since the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was specially formed after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008 to investigate terror attacks in the country, took over the blasts case in which Hindu radical groups are accused from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in 2011, it has not moved forward at all, Salian told ET.
All the breakthroughs were primarily the result of the hard work of former ATS chief Hemant Karkare who was killed in action in the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, she said.
"They have not been able to bring anything new about the case, since the NIA took over the trial. Not a single piece of paper has been submitted to the court. In fact, they could not even file the chargesheet on time, which led to three of the accused being let off on bail," Salian said.
This despite prime accused Aseemanand's confession about the involvement of Hindu radical groups in the Samjhauta, Mecca Masjid and Malegaon blasts in 2006, to name a few, the NIA has not been able to gather any new piece of evidence.
NIA officials could not be reached for a comment. 

The NIA has tried to cast aspersions on Salian by insinuating that she was making up the allegations since the agency was planning to remove her as its special public prosecutor as she had "failed to perform". 

But, both former ATS officials and senior public prosecutors have come out strongly in support of Salian. 

Former special public prosecutor for the Maharashtra government in the Bombay High Court, Pandurang Pol, slammed the NIA for questioning Salian's credibility. "Public prosecutors face pressure from government as well as bureaucrats and police officers to favour the accused once the case comes to trial. I have not encouraged any of them. However, the pressure is always there. Salian is one of the best prosecutors and she should be commended for speaking out the truth," Pol said. 

A former ATS officer, who was part of Karkare's team, said, "Till the case was with us we were hunting for Aseemanand as we knew he was the crucial link and from the interrogation of the accused like Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya we knew that the 2008 blasts in Malegaon was not a one off incident. 

All that the NIA had to do was to put together the pieces that were already there. Instead it is obvious what it is trying to do." While the BJP is being cornered by Congress on this issue, Salian's assertions are also bound to put the Congress in a piquant spot. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hard Truth About Soft Prosecution - Editorial - The Economic Times | Why we must listen to Rohini Salian - Julio Rubeiro - The Indian Express

The Economic Times


Hard Truth About Soft Prosecution

Government must shed politicisation of the police and prosecution
June 27, 2015, 4:46 AM IST  in ET Editorials | Edit PageIndiaTimes View | ET
Inline image 2

Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian’s statement that she was asked, soon after the NDA government came to power, to go soft in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, where the accused are members of Hindu extremist groups, points to a long-standing problem with the Indian criminal justice system: politicisation. Prosecution is not so much a professional process as a political one. Public prosecutors are, in essence, political appointees and there could be merit in the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) claim that Salian’s disclosure follows intimations, whether official or unofficial, of termination of her charge. But that, in no way, takes away from the general truth of her statement, whose specific veracity can easily be established by asking her to name the NIA functionary who made the unprofessional request.
India cannot prosper as a democracy when the rule of law is arbitrary and capricious. Investigative and prosecution agencies cannot be allowed to be influenced by the prejudices of the ruling party. This does not mean going to the extreme of demanding independence of police and prosecution. These must report and be accountable to the executive. But, in order to remain functionally autonomous, they must also testify periodically before a multiparty committee of the legislature and have a line of accountability to the Human Rights Commission as well. Such multiple lines of accountability, instead of hobbling these agencies, will actually give them functional independence. This is a key democratic reform that will vastly improve the climate of doing business in the country.
The legal machinery has certainly gone soft on all those charged with ‘encounter killings’ in Gujarat, after the change of guard at the Centre. It would be surprising if the same courtesy is not extended to those in jail while being prosecuted for terror attacks in Muslim majority areas under the inspiration of Hindu extremist ideology.
This would be most unfortunate. It would further polarise a fraught polity and deflate India’s international campaign against states that patronise terror. Systemic reform is the need of the hour.
The Indian Express

Why we must listen to Rohini Salian

Going slow on ‘Hindu terror’ is dangerous. It’s also an insult to the memory of Hemant Karkare.

 column, express column, Hindu terror, Rohini Salian, lawyer, hindu extremists, BJP, Hemant Karkare, BJP leaders, L K Advani, 2008 Malegaon Blast, ATS, Indian Express

Rohini Salian is a legend in the world of public prosecutors. 

Written by Julio Ribeiro | Updated: June 27, 2015 11:16 am

Rohini Salian is a legend in the world of public prosecutors. Every policeman knows her name. So do the lawyers and judges of the city of Mumbai. She is single-minded in her commitment to her duties and, above all, everyone knows that she cannot be bought.

Salian’s lament on being asked to go soft on Hindu extremists accused of terrorist acts frightens us to believe that the country is steadily being led on to the path trodden by our surly neighbour on our western border. The masterminds of the 26/11 attacks are treated like heroes in Pakistan.

We are not there yet, but if hidden hands nudge the judicial system to free murderers of the saffron variety, we will be soon.

2008 Malegaon Blast:

A day before he was shot dead by Pakistani terrorists who had clandestinely sailed from Karachi to Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, an outstanding IPS officer of impeccable integrity as well as high intelligence and abilities, had come to meet me. He was disturbed by the reactions of some BJP leaders, particularly L.K. Advani, to the turn his investigations had taken in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which he headed at that time, had initially suspected jihadi fanatics. Such thoughts would come naturally to any policeman those days as Muslim groupings like Simi had been responsible for several terrorist acts across the country. But, the ATS had suddenly, unexpectedly and, I must add, fortuitously come across incontrovertible evidence, which included taped conversations, to prove that the Malegaon blasts, as well as the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts that killed nearly a hundred people, were conceived, planned and executed by a group of fanatical Hindus bent on revenge.

It is the duty of law enforcers to seek the real offenders and ensure that they are dealt with by the law of the land. Politics, religion, caste, community have no role to play in the pursuit of truth and justice. It is true that such lofty ideals are often forgotten but fortunately there are still police officers who act according to their conscience and the Constitution. Hemant Karkare was one such officer.

I went through some of the evidence he had gathered. I was staggered. I could understand the anger that prompted the perpetrators to embark on their misconceived journey. But a police officer has to do his duty, which is to stick to the truth and the letter of the law. I advised Karkare to abide by his “dharma”. I offered to speak to Advani if required. I was sure that Advani would appreciate the fact that Karkare was doing what any true gentleman and patriot would be expected to do.

Unfortunately, Ajmal Kasab and his brainwashed companions snuffed out the life of a good man. Karkare was not around to pursue the case but his successors carried on the investigations and filed the chargesheet against the real culprits in court.

Salian is one public prosecutor who can be equated to Karkare, albeit in a parallel arm of the judicial process. As Karkare was to probity in investigations, Rohini is to probity in prosecution. She sticks to the truth and to her duty. In her, the powerful people who want to scuttle the case for ideological reasons have caught a Tartar.

Hemant had approached Salian because he knew that she was not a person who could be influenced by money or any other inducement.
And she was competent. It is this same Rohini Salian whom the powers that be now want to remove from the case because she is not willing to budge from the path of duty and truth. Shame on those who are attempting to interfere in the course of justice. They do not realise the damage they do to the rule of law, to which, incidentally, they pay lip service.

What is worse is that by their covert attempts to get the culprits off the hook, they are encouraging jihadists to strike again, something they are already good at. Another negative fallout will be the licence it will give to evil-minded investigators and prosecutors, both of whom are proliferating in ever-increasing numbers, to revel in injustice and corruption. And then, there is the ultimate price we will pay: losing the moral right to condemn Pakistan when it protects men like Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the masterminds of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

Our leaders need to think of these consequences before they covertly try to sabotage the course of justice. They should desist from making our great country in the image of our neighbour. And finally, they should respect the memory of that fallen martyr, Hemant Karkare, instead of cocking a snook at his noble efforts to bring the true offenders to book.

The writer, a retired IPS officer, was Mumbai police commissioner, DGP Gujarat and DGP Punjab


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Since this new govt came, I have been told to go soft on accused (Hindu extremists): Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian - The Indian Express

Since this new govt came, I have been told to go soft on accused (Hindu extremists): Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian

Rohini Salian said she wants the NIA to officially denotify her from the case to which she was appointed in 2008, 'so that I am free to take up other cases, against the NIA, if need be'.

2008 Malegaon blasts, Malegaon blasts case, malegaon, Rohini Salian, bjp government, Hindu extremists, nda government, narendra modi, Malegaon 2008 blasts, Malegaon Hindu extremists, National Investigation Agency, NIA, Hindu extremist cases, Malegaon accused, Malegaon blast accused, india news, nation news

Rohini Salian said she wants the NIA to officially denotify her from the case to which she was appointed in 2008, 'so that I am free to take up other cases, against the NIA, if need be'.

Written by Sunanda Mehta | Mumbai/pune | Updated: June 25, 2015 4:16 pm

Rohini Salian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case related to the Malegaon 2008 blasts in which four Muslims were killed during Ramzan and in which Hindu extremists are the accused, has said that over the past one year, since “the new government came to power,” she has been under pressure from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the case.

Soon after the NDA government came to power last year, she said, she got a call from one of  the officers of the NIA — the agency investigating all the alleged Hindu extremist cases — asking to come over to speak with her. “He didn’t want to talk over the phone. He came and said to me that there is a message that I should go soft,” Salian told The Indian Express

Matters came to a head this month, on June 12, she said, when just before one of the regular hearings in the case in the Sessions Court, she was told by the same NIA officer that “higher-ups” did not want her to appear in the court for the State of Maharashtra and that another advocate would attend the proceedings.

Salian, 68, a leading prosecutor who has handled important cases like the J J shootout, Borivili double murder, the Bharat Shah case and the Mulund blasts amongst others, said: “The meaning (of that message from the officer) is very clear — don’t get us favourable orders.”

She said she wants the NIA to officially denotify her from the case to which she was appointed in 2008, “so that I am free to take up other cases, against the NIA, if need be”.

The Malegaon blast, on September 29, 2008, claimed four lives and injured 79 while another blast at the same time in Modasa in Gujarat killed one. Initially, Muslims were seen as suspects in the case but it was under Hemant Karkare of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that investigations led to alleged Hindu extremists based in Indore, as first reported by The Indian Express on October 23, 2010.

Investigations revealed the blasts were allegedly the handiwork of extremist Hindu organisations. Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Of the 12, four are on bail.

That probe — later given over to the NIA that was constituted after the 26/11 terror attack in which Karkare was killed — led to a relook at other cases: Malegaon blasts of 2006 (31 killed, 312 injured); 2007 Ajmer blast (3 killed, 15 injured); 2007 Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad (9 killed, 58 injured); and 2007 Samjhauta Express attack (68 killed, 13 injured). The probe found many common accused in these cases.

Salian said that the Supreme Court has now decreed that the case should be tried in a special court with a specially appointed judge to see to the matter. “So in a way it’s all back to square one,” said Salian.

On April 15, the Supreme Court held that the Malegaon accused cannot be charged under MCOCA since there was no evidence as on date. Opening the doors for their release on bail, it further said that the trial court should decide their bail plea on merit and without applicability of MCOCA, preferably within one month.

This, Salian said, now leaves it open for the accused to once again appeal for bail in the court under changed circumstances.

“A day before June 12, when the case came up again for regular hearing (in the trial court), the same officer who had come to my office came up to me and said there are instructions from higher-ups, someone else will appear instead of you. I said I was expecting this and, good, you have told me this, so please settle my bills…I also said that now they should now denotify me so that I can appear against the NIA in other matters — not this one — in the future. He must have conveyed it to the higher-ups and I am waiting for their action. I have not heard from anyone since then,” said Salian.

“The meaning (of the message from the government) is very clear — don’t get us favourable orders. Unfavourable orders are invited — that goes against the society,” said a perturbed Salian.

When asked how she saw the case proceeding further, Salian said, “For a layman or a fresh prosecutor it’s very difficult — one cannot do anything. Maybe they want to loosen it and ultimately lose the case because they can’t withdraw it.”
First Published on: June 25, 2015 3:49 am

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My comments posted on Times of India newstory: Saudi Arabia celebrates World Yoga Day during Ramadan:

My comments posted on Times of India newstory: Saudi Arabia celebrates World Yoga Day during Ramadan:

Ghulam MuhammedMumbai5 mins ago

The TOI headline: "Saudi Arabia celebrates World Yoga Day during Ramadan" is grossly misleading. The account of Indian School, Jeddah run by Indian Embassy among other schools, cannot be stretched to claim that Saudi Arabia as a State has officially organized such Yoga Day celebrations. We as Indians do not need such spurious propaganda to push Yoga that without such hijacking exercise has been accepted world over without any prejudice as a very effective alternative exercise routine that delivers. The more our fanatics try to paint Yoga as a Hindu ritualistic exercise, the more detractors of Hindu or Hindutva religious overreach, will set in motion counter propaganda that will unnecessarily harm nation's interest and dent its goodwill around the world. 


Saudi Arabia celebrates World Yoga Day during Ramadan

Irfan Mohammed | Jun 23, 2015, 05.30 PM IST
Saudi Arabia celebrates World Yoga Day during Ramadan
Demonstration of yoga in Indian school in Jeddah on Sunday.
JEDDAH: International Yoga Day was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to popularize the ancient Indian practice across the world including Arabian Gulf countries. 

The Indian diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia organized maiden yoga sessions in various Indian schools in the kingdom to celebrate International Yoga Day that is being observed around the world on June 21. 

The Indian consulate in Jeddah and Arab Yoga Foundation has conducted Yoga session at Indian International School which was addressed by yogacharya Nouf Al Marwaai, president of Arab Yoga Foundation. She emphasized the need of practicing yoga and adopting a natural lifestyle which is essential to get rid of increasing obesity and other diseases among Saudis and also Indians and people across the world. 

Arab Yoga Foundation was founded in 2010 by the Arab yogacharya Nouf Al Marwaai, who is an expert in yoga asanas and exercises and has been associated with various yoga organizations in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. 

The event was attended by Indian consul general B.S. Mubarak, consul Anand Kumar and other Indian officials. Over 1200 students participated in the event to mark International Yoga Day by practicing various yoga asanas using proper techniques. 

A week ago, Indian consulate and Arab Yoga Foundation had conducted a two-day brainstorming yoga workshop at the Indian consulate at dusk during Ramadan. A gathering of Saudis and Indians participated in the workshop, where organizers demonstrated to participants various yoga asanas, and distributed instruction sheets. The two-day event followed the guidelines of the common yogic protocol released by the Indian government. For personal use and practice, books and DVDs on Yoga were made available to the public. 

In Riyadh, the Indian embassy also marked event in its premises and also at the Indian international schools in Riyadh and Dammam. The embassy had also organized a demo and lecture on 'Subtle Yoga, power breathing and relaxation' which was attended by the diplomatic fraternity also prominent Indian community members. 

Hemant H. Kotalwar, deputy chief of mission briefed the audience on Sunday about the importance of yoga in modern life. 

Around 1500 students of the international Indian school in Riyadh also gave a demonstration of various asanas during the event, according to a statement released by the Indian embassy in Riyadh.