FaithWorld

Saudi national day reflects monarchy’s growing clout against clerics

abdullah (Photo: King Abdullah on a visit to Jordan, July 30, 2010/Muhammad Hamed)

Saudi authorities are taking greater liberty in celebrating the modern monarchy’s anniversary, a sign of their growing clout against clerics who have criticized holidays outside of the Islamic calendar.

Present ruler King Abdullah, 86, emphasised his push to reform the deeply conservative country upon taking power in 2005 by decreeing September 23 as an official holiday marking the kingdom’s unification led by founder King Abdul-Aziz and an army of ultra-conservative followers.

Since then, celebrations have been getting more colourful to attract larger masses and the labour ministry took the extra step of granting a paid-day off for all public and private sector employees for the day marking unification.

A prominent political writer, Khalid al-Dakhil said authorities’ push for a more jubilant celebration of the National Day highlights that the monarchy no longer feels it has to follow the mores of the Wahhabi clerics.  “The Saudi state had in the past felt a need — or was forced — to listen to the religious establishment … King Abdullah has chosen a different path. Such change could not have happened 40 years ago,” Dakhil said.

Many Saudi clerics consider as heresy any celebration outside the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, including the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.

Can saffron be red in Thailand?

THAILAND

(A monk walks along a red shirt barricade in Bangkok's business district on April 25/Sukree Sukplang)

At the sprawling red shirt encampment in central bank, Buddhist monks clad in their distinctive saffron robes mingle with men wearing helmets walking around with sharpened bamboo sticks.

Just about every night, rumours sweep the the sprawling encampment of tents, sounds trucks and makeshift stalls that a long anticipated crackdown is imminent. The men stare at the three-metre barricades made of tyres, bamboo poles and rubble that surround much of the encampment, about the size of a large city park, waiting to pelt soldiers armed with  assault rifles with pellets from their sling shots and thrusts of their bamboo spears.

from UK News:

Reform of UK’s monarchy laws – enlightened or meddling?

Discussions between the British premier and monarch to reverse religious discriminatory laws going back 300 years have sparked consternation in a conservative newspaper while attracting little response from the Roman Catholic church.

Proposed changes of the 1701 Act of Settlement would allow a future king or queen to marry a Roman Catholic, but would still preclude a royal of that faith becoming monarch.

It would also give female heirs an equal claim to the throne.

Nevertheless, Steve Doughty writing an analysis piece in the Daily Mail suggested it was an attack on Britain's constitution, heralding the end of the monarchy as we know it and the Church of England.