Saudi Arabia ends ban on minister's books

RIYADH Sun Aug 1, 2010 9:04pm IST

Related Topics

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on books written by its ailing labour minister whose liberal tone provoked both the official clerical establishment and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, government officials said on Sunday.

Ghazi Algosaibi, 70, is a former ambassador to London and a confidant of King Abdullah whose push for reform has fostered divisions among senior members of the religious establishment and between reformists and the most conservative clerics.

Algosaibi, who is undergoing medical treatment abroad, has occupied government and diplomatic positions and played a key role in the setting up of state-controlled Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the kingdom's largest listed company.

Bin Laden singled out Algosaibi in a taped message from his hideout in 2006 as a liberal fifth columnist.

Novelists publishing inside Saudi Arabia usually submit their work to the ministry of information in advance. Only a handful are technically banned, and many writers resort to Arab publishers outside Saudi Arabia and leave individual bookstores inside the country the choice of whether to risk importing them.

The kingdom, a key U.S. ally, is ruled by the Al Saud family in alliance with clerics from the austere Wahhabi school of Islam who oversee mosques, the judiciary and education, as well as running police who enforce religious morality.

Interior ministry police work with the morals squad to make sure unrelated men and women are kept apart, that women are covered from head to toe and do not drive, and that sharia law is fully implemented including a ban on alcohol.

Rulers of the world's top oil exporter country have wrestled with the idea of moderating Wahhabism since the 2001 attacks on the U.S., carried out mostly by Saudis, and the emergence of al Qaeda militancy against the Saudi government in 2003.

(Reporting by Souhail Karaml; Editing by Louise Ireland)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Republic Day

Reuters Showcase

RK Laxman Dead

RK Laxman Dead

'Common Man' cartoonist RK Laxman dead at 93  Full Article 

Banking Revolution

Banking Revolution

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution.  Full Article 

Nuclear Group

Nuclear Group

China urges India to take steps to satisfy standards of NSG  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

Northeast U.S. braves 'crippling' blizzard, transit systems shut.  Full Article 

No Layoffs

No Layoffs

IBM dismisses Forbes report of massive layoffs.  Full Article 

Padma Bhushan

Padma Bhushan

India honours Bill Gates with civilian award  Full Article 

Fashionable Modi

Fashionable Modi

When Modi met Obama, his name was all over - his suit  Full Article 

Spielberg Speaks

Spielberg Speaks

Spielberg: 70 years after Holocaust Jews still face anti-Semitism.  Full Article 

Photo

Australian Open

Sharapova schools Bouchard to advance in Melbourne   Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage