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memri
July 30, 2018 No.
7594

Jordanian MP Who Planned To Join Gaza Flotilla Longed To Die A Martyr During It

In a July 17, 2018 speech in the Jordanian parliament, attorney Yahya Al-Saud, who chairs the parliament's Palestine Committee, announced that he intended to join the "Freedom Flotilla" protesting conditions in the Gaza Strip that had set out from Denmark in mid-May 2018. He added that he hoped to die a martyr on the voyage. Al-Saud had previously participated in the 2015 Freedom Flotilla.

On July 29, one of the flotilla's two vessels was stopped and boarded by the Israeli Navy and towed to Ashdod, Israel.   

Al-Saud's expression of his desire for martyrdom was welcomed by the chairman of the lower house of the Jordanian parliament, and in an op-ed in the Jordanian establishment daily Al-Rai by Jihad Abu-Baidar, chairman of the Jordan Press Association's Civil Liberties Committee.

About a week after declaring his intent to join the flotilla in his speech, Al-Saud stated that he would not be participating, citing health reasons, and added that he aimed to organize another flotilla.

The following report will review Al-Saud's statements and reactions to them in Jordan:

Yahya Al-Saud, Chairman Of Parliamentary Palestine Committee: Pray That I Will Be Granted Martyrdom, Or That I Will Return Safe And Sound

During a July 17, 2018 speech, as part of deliberations about the vote of confidence in the new government of Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz, attorney Yahya Al-Saud, chairman of the parliamentary Palestine Committee, announced his intention to join the flotilla that had set sail from Denmark in May 2018 to the Gaza coast to protest against the situation in the Gaza Strip. He added that he hoped to be granted a martyr's death on the journey. He said: "I want to travel to Gaza with the Freedom Flotilla. Pray to God [that I will be granted] martyrdom, or that I will return safe and sound."[1] Following Al-Saud's speech, Speaker of the House of Representatives Atef Tarawneh called on the MPs to pray that Al-Saud would be granted martyrdom.[2]

It should be noted that this is not the first time that Al-Saud has expressed hopes for martyrdom. Earlier, in April 2018, in a speech in the parliament, Al-Saud thanked King Abdullah for bringing a Palestinian man to Jordan to receive medical treatment, and said that he himself longed to die a martyr: "[Allah] grant me and my comrades martyrdom on the threshold of Al-Aqsa."[3]

Article In Al-Rai Establishment Daily: Pray That MP Al-Saud Will Be Granted Either Success Or Martyrdom

Similarly, on July 21, 2018, in an article in the Al-Rai establishment daily, Jihad Abu-Baidar, chairman of the Jordan Press Association's Civil Liberties Committee, defended Al-Saud against accusations that he was leveraging the Palestinian cause for his own aims.[4]  He expressed support for Al-Saud's participation in the flotilla, and even urged people to pray that God would grant him success or martyrdom. He wrote: "Enough of your spreading rumors and assumptions. [Instead], arise and build [yourselves] a boat and sail it to Gaza, or pray that God will grant success or martyrdom to whoever volunteers [to do so] on your behalf. I have known MP Yahya Al-Saud for years. He could be sitting at home now with his sons, or traveling as a tourist on another boat to other coasts, just as many of us are doing now... But this simple man Al-Saud has chosen to voyage to the Gaza coast instead of to the coasts of Antalya, Marmaris, or Cyprus."[5]

Also In Al-Saud's Speech: Protest Against Removal Of Quranic Verses Calling For Jihad From School Curricula

In the same July 17 speech in parliament, Al-Saud criticized the removal of Quranic verses calling for jihad from the school curricula, and called for support for the struggle against Israel. He said: "How can we express confidence in the prime minister [Omar Al-Razzaz] who has significantly curtailed the school curricula in the name of civil society and the civil state,[6] and has removed the Quranic verses calling jihad from them? Also, Palestine and its people are very much in need of a revision of the plan for the struggle against Israel, based on the honored Quranic verse: 'Fight them until there will be no more enticement [to heresy in Islam],' and based on the words of the Prophet Muhammad: 'Whoever does not go out to fight [for Islam] and does not plan in his heart to fight, will die a hypocrite [and will be punished in Hell].'"

Al-Saud also called for reexamining the Jordan-Israel peace treaty in light of what he referred to as "the daily violations of the agreement by Israel," the agreement to import gas from Israel, and the Med-Dead Canal agreement, as well as for recalling the Jordanian ambassador from Israel.[7]

Al-Saud On The Deck Of Al-Awda In Sicily

On July 19, 2018, Al-Saud posted on his Facebook page photos of himself on the deck of the Al-Awda ("The Return"), one of the flotilla's vessels, in Sicily prior to its departure for the Gaza Strip, and wrote: "The time has come for the occupation state that has laid siege to Gaza, and for all those who are silent in the face of the crime of the siege, to realize that their siege will not succeed and will never succeed in breaking the determination of the residents of Gaza, and that the Zionists and those who follow their plan never succeed in subjugating the Palestinian people or causing them to relinquish their rights or their honor. Nevertheless, we, the Arab peoples and MPs who represent the nation will not abandon our people and will continue to act to end the siege, for this is our duty and the duty of all advocates of freedom in the world, even if the countries are prevented from playing their parts."[8]


Al-Saud's Facebook post from Sicily (Facebook.com/alsoudlawyer, July 19, 2018)

Al-Saud Withdraws From The Flotilla

As stated, Al-Saud withdrew from participating in the flotilla. On July 25, 2018, International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza chairman Zaher Al-Birawi stated that he had been informed by Al-Saud, a few hours before the ship left Sicily, that he was not feeling well and following consultations with a doctor had decided not to participate in the flotilla.[9] Al-Saud, added Al-Birawi, had underlined that he dreamed of breaking the siege on Gaza and of entering it, and clarified that to this end he would examine, together with Al-Birawi, the possibility of organizing a new flotilla that would include Arab MPs from different countries.[10]

 

[1] Jordan Television YouTube channel, July 17, 2017.

[2] Khaberni.com, July 17, 2017.

[3] Assawsana.com, April 3, 2018; Ramallah.news, April 3, 2018.

[4] Apparently a reference to the reactions on social media to Al-Saud's concluding statement in his speech of July 17: "Pray to God [that I will be granted] martyrdom or that I will return safe and sound," and also to the criticism of his alleged involvement in a large corruption scandal recently exposed in Jordan.

[5] Al-Rai (Jordan), July 21, 2018.

[6] For more on changes in Jordanian school curricula, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1340, School Curricula In The Arab World: The Situation Today, August 31, 2017. Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz, who is identified with the liberal stream in Jordan and who had pushed for amendments to the 2016 school curricula, was in late 2016 appointed education minister and spoke more about the importance of further changes to curricula on various occasions.

[7] Assabeel (Jordan), July 17, 2018. It should be noted that during the parliamentary debates regarding the vote of confidence in the government, additional anti-Israel voices were heard. MP Huda Etoom recounted in her speech that "My mother, may Allah have mercy on her, would like to blow herself up in a group of Zionists," and MP Muhammad Al-Zahrawi attacked Jordanian Tourism Minister Lina Annab, who had referred to Israelis as "cousins" and also attacked the Jews, whom he dubbed "killers of the prophets." See MEMRI TV Clip 6674, Jordanian MP Huda Etoom: My Late Mother’s Single Unfulfilled Desire Was To Blow Herself Up Among The Zionist Jews, July 17, 2018; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7582, Jordanian MP Muhammad Al-Zahrawi: The West Bank Must Come Under Hashemite Banner; The Plundering Jews Are Prophet Slayers, July 23, 2018.

[8] Facebook.com/alsoudlawyer, July 19, 2018.

[9] Khaberni.com, July 25, 2018.

[10] Khaberni.com, July 29. 2018.