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January 07, 2005


Nur al-Cubicle

Saw this in this morning's Le Monde:

$82 million was raised in assistance money for the victims of the tsunami during a Saudi Arabian telethon which started yesterday. Prince Al-Walid bin Talal gave $18.6 millon. King Fahd made a private contribution of $5,3 millions, Crown Prince Abdallah bin Abdel Aziz gave $2.7 million and the Saudi Minister of Defense Sultan bin Abdel Aziz gave $1.3 million. The Saudi construction company Saudi Oger, owned by Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, gave $6.7 million. Saudi Aramco phoned in a contribution of $2 million.

Kuwait has announce that it has rescheduled the debt payments of hundreds of millions of dollars owed by Asian countries impacted by the tsunami. The United States announced that it would apply pressure on wealthy oil states, particularly in the the Gulf, for more donations. Saudi Arabia announced a public grant of $30 million, the UAE $20 million, and Kuwaït and Qatar a gift of $10 million each. The Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah was far more generous, donating $500 million in aid.

Saudi Arabia had initially offered $10 million but has since tripled that figure and sponsored the telethon. The Committee of Saudi Ulema went on state-sponsored television to urge viewers to donate as assistance in time of need is one of the seven pillars of Islam. Sheik Saïd al-Bouraïk criticized the kingdom's banking institutions for their modest donations of between $266,000 and $800,000 dollars.

Meantime, Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher, who is not Muslim, donated $10 million to victims of the quake and tsunami underscoring that most of the victims were Muslim, according to Ibrahim al-Khalidi at a Saudi donations center. Still others set their own standards for donations. 30 year-old Abdelmajid brought four sacks of rice "for my Muslim brothers" to the donations center, saying "I don't want my gift to go to non-Muslims. If it did, I'd forfeit the reward of Allah." A feeling of solidarity with the Muslim victims of the catastrophe was expressed by the Ulema, though they stressed that assisting non-Muslims was a act of Islamic charity. Bearded Saqr al-Onayz left a stack of cash for the victims, saying he wanted to help his Muslim brethern in distress. But he added that he had no objection to assisting non-Muslims, saying that he hoped that it would stop others from accusing Saudis of being terrorists.

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