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Sami Hamdi weighs in on Saudi Arabia’s ban on political slogans and Gantz’s departure from war cabinet

Sameera Casmod |
10 June 2024 | 23:30
2-minute read

Image: AFP via Middle East Eye

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, announced his exit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency wartime government yesterday.

Sami Hamdi, a prominent voice advocating for Palestinian solidarity, said during an interview on Radio Islam International that the move reflects underlying tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu.

Gantz, despite his initial hesitation because of a personal dispute with Netanyahu, had joined Israel’s emergency wartime government at the behest of the United States, Hamdi said.

“He has antagonism with Netanyahu, but he joined the government at the behest of the Americans because Biden believed that if a genocide was going to take place, there needed to be a unity government. I think Benny Gantz’s withdrawal suggests more tension between Biden and Netanyahu,” Hamdi noted.

However, the decrease in political support for Biden because of his complicity in Israel’s genocide in Gaza is proving to be a major concern for the president, particularly as it might affect his chances in upcoming elections.

“Biden is not concerned about the genocide itself. He’s happy to continue supporting Netanyahu in this genocide and attempt at ethnically cleansing Gaza so that the Israelis can take it,” Hamdi remarked.

Hamdi cited a tweet by John Hudson, the White House correspondent for The Washington Post, noting that Biden’s donors are conditioning their financial support on his continued backing of Netanyahu. However, this demand is alienating a significant portion of Biden’s voter base.

“The very demand that the donors are making are what might make Biden lose the election,” Hamdi explained.

Additionally, there are increasing tensions in the Israeli government, with Itamar Ben-Gvir threatening to bring down Netanyahu’s government if he accepts Biden’s ceasefire proposal.

Shifting focus to the Hajj period, Hamdi discussed the controversial statement made by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah, who declared that political slogans would not be tolerated during Hajj. This statement, perceived as a reference to acts of solidarity with Palestinians, has sparked widespread criticism.

Hamdi argued that the Saudi government’s stance is not merely a routine directive but a strategic move to suppress discussions about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Gaza conflict.

“Over the past eight months, we have seen the Saudi government try to restrict expressions of solidarity for Palestinians because they are concerned that such expressions will lead to discussions on Saudi’s role in this genocide,” he stated.

Addressing the issue of politicisation, Hamdi pointed out the double standards in the Saudi regime’s approach. He criticised the use of religious platforms to promote state agendas while suppressing dissent.

“The problem is not about political slogans because they’re being used when they’re in favour of Saudis. The issue is the Hajj minister is not talking about political slogans. He’s saying, don’t you dare come and criticise Saudis and criticise what we’re doing,” Hamdi asserted.

Despite these challenges, Hamdi emphasised the significant impact of Hajj in uniting Muslims and fostering global solidarity. He noted that the collective sentiments of the Hajj pilgrims have already influenced political decisions.

“Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wanted to normalise ties with Israel, is now telling the Americans that he can’t normalise right now because these millions of Muslims are angry,” Hamdi explained.

He highlighted the power of Hajj in resetting the consciousness of the Ummah and compelling Muslim leaders to address critical issues.

“The Hajj has emphatically succeeded in this, showing that the Ummah remains alive and still has the power to reset those ambitions,” Hamdi concluded.

Listen to the full interview on Under the Radar with Moulana Ebrahim Moosa here.


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