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G4S Human rights violators to ‘secure Hujaaj’

Sakeena Suliman – Cii News | 01 Dhul Hijjah 1434/07 October 2013

Calls have been made to Saudi Arabia (KSA) to break its contract with British-Danish security company G4S. The company was awarded the contract in 2011 to ease the “logistical headache” of the flow of the more than 3 million pilgrims from around the world.

G4S is a leading global security company proven by Palestinian and international human rights organisations to be complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestinians.

The National Committee for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has already called on the Saudi government to break its contract with the company. The director of Friends of Al Aqsa, Ismail Patel, has written an open letter asking for the same.

Jamiatul Ulama South Africa says they will make the letter it has sent to the Saudi embassy in Pretoria public once it receives a response. BDS SA has also sent letters to the Saudi embassy in SA and the South African embassy in KSA.

“G4S is not only complicit but profiting from Israel’s occupation in general and incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners in particular,” explains Muhammad Desai from BDS SA, “G4S is contracted to provide and maintain security equipment at Israeli prisons. The equipment includes monitoring systems, cameras and control rooms in which Palestinians are detained without trial and subjected to torture. The company also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

G4S has been a BDS campaign target for many years. Many European institutions such as Industri Energi, the University of Oslo and both businesses and not-for-profit group have cut ties with G4S as “an act of solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people” as a result.

“When we heard a Muslim country was asking G4S to take care or to bring order during the time of Hajj – which is one of the highest principles for Muslims, a fard for us – we thought that was not acceptable. Here is a company that is profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian people. And yet a Muslim country, so called sympathetic to the Palestinian people, are supporting them,” said Patel on Cii’s Sabahul Khair.

Palestinians are routinely stopped when attending Masjidul Aqsa. While G4s is directly responsible for preventing Muslims from attending the Haram in al Quds in Jerusalem they are being paid to take care of Muslims in two of Islam’s holiest cities during a sacred spiritual journey.

“I think that’s a smut of hypocrisy and a bad taste is left with any sane human being and therefore we have requested Saudi Arabia to break the contract. I am sure they can use another company for that same purpose,” said Patel.

G4S operations in Saudi Arabia are currently being managed by a former Saudi security officer, Khalid Baghdadi. The company which is reported to have started working with the Saudi government in 2010 bears the name Almajal G4S.

Baghdadi is quoted in a 2012 G4S international magazine as saying, “The contract involves controlling the flow of pilgrims onto the trains and helping people who have a problem. We make sure the crowd is well directed and provide security services as well. It is an honour for us to be involved in the Hajj but it is hard work for all our people.”

Patel says it’s important for people, not just Muslims, to campaign wherever they have a Saudi embassy to ask them very politely to break this contract “because it simply doesn’t show that they are serious about liberating Palestine”.

Desai says BDS SA will be meeting with Muslim representative bodies to see how they can work together in engaging the Saudi government. “We are convinced that with the support of local organisations, international bodies and community members we will be able to convince the Saudi government to do the right thing, end any contracts with G4S and not aid in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine,” he says.

Their appeal also extends to South African businesspeople that currently employ G4S to end their contracts.
Tags: G4S, hajj, Israel, Occupation, Sakeena Suliman, Saudi Arabia, Zionism

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