Letter Shows Pope Pius XII Probably Knew about Holocaust Early on

A document from archives on Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939-1958, containing the names of the people who have been executed during the Ardeatine massacre is displayed ahead of the full opening of the secret archives to scholars on March 2, at the Vatican, February 27,2020. (Reuters)
A document from archives on Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939-1958, containing the names of the people who have been executed during the Ardeatine massacre is displayed ahead of the full opening of the secret archives to scholars on March 2, at the Vatican, February 27,2020. (Reuters)
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Letter Shows Pope Pius XII Probably Knew about Holocaust Early on

A document from archives on Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939-1958, containing the names of the people who have been executed during the Ardeatine massacre is displayed ahead of the full opening of the secret archives to scholars on March 2, at the Vatican, February 27,2020. (Reuters)
A document from archives on Pope Pius XII, who reigned from 1939-1958, containing the names of the people who have been executed during the Ardeatine massacre is displayed ahead of the full opening of the secret archives to scholars on March 2, at the Vatican, February 27,2020. (Reuters)

Wartime Pope Pius XII knew details about the Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews in the Holocaust as early as 1942, according to a letter found in the Vatican archives that conflicts with the Holy See's official position at the time that the information it had was vague and unverified.

The yellowed, typewritten letter, reproduced in Italy's Corriere della Sera on Sunday, is highly significant because it was discovered by an in-house Vatican archivist and made public with the encouragement of Holy See officials.

The letter, dated Dec. 14, 1942, was written by Father Lother Koenig, a Jesuit who was in the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany, and addressed to the pope's personal secretary at the Vatican, Father Robert Leiber, also a German.

Vatican archivist Giovanni Coco told the Corriere that the importance of the letter was "enormous, a unique case" because it showed the Vatican had information that labor camps were actually death factories.

In the letter, Koenig tells Leiber that sources had confirmed that about 6,000 Poles and Jews a day were being killed in "SS-furnaces" at the Belzec camp near Rava-Ruska, which was then part of German-occupied Poland and is now in western Ukraine.

"The newness and importance of this document derives from a fact: now we have the certainty that the Catholic Church in Germany sent Pius XII exact and detailed news about the crimes that were being perpetrated against the Jews," Coco told the newspaper, whose article was headlined: "Pius XII Knew".

Asked by the Corriere interviewer if the letter showed that Pius knew, Coco said: "Yes, and not only from then."

Documents sorted haphazardly

The letter made reference to two other Nazi camps - Auschwitz and Dachau - and suggested that there were other missives between Koenig and Leiber that either have gone missing or have not yet been found.

Supporters of Pius say he worked behind the scenes to help Jews and did not speak out in order to prevent worsening the situation for Catholics in Nazi-occupied Europe. His detractors say he lacked the courage to speak out on information he had despite pleas from Allied powers fighting Germany.

The letter was among documents Coco said were kept in haphazard ways in the Vatican's Secretariat of State and only recently handed over to the central archives where he works.

Suzanne Brown-Fleming, director of International Academic Programs at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, told Reuters in an email that the release showed that the Vatican was taking seriously Pope Francis' statement that "the Church is not afraid of history" when he ordered the wartime archives opened in 2019.

"There is both a desire for and support for a careful assessment of the documents from a scientific perspective - whether favorable or unfavorable in what the documents reveal," she said.

In an email to Reuters, David Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Pope at War", a 2022 book about the Pius years, said Coco was a "top notch, serious scholar", centrally placed in the Vatican to unearth the truth.



Hamas Urges UNESCO to Save Gaza's Historic Buildings

The Gaza Strip's archaeological site of Saint Hilarion - AFP
The Gaza Strip's archaeological site of Saint Hilarion - AFP
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Hamas Urges UNESCO to Save Gaza's Historic Buildings

The Gaza Strip's archaeological site of Saint Hilarion - AFP
The Gaza Strip's archaeological site of Saint Hilarion - AFP

Hamas urged UNESCO to protect historic buildings in the Gaza Strip on Friday, saying Israel's assault had left the Palestinian territory's oldest church, last hammam baths and treasured mosques in ruins.

Footage and images posted on social media on Friday appeared to show the Great Omari Mosque, the largest and oldest in Gaza City, reduced to rubble.

Only the minaret appeared to be intact, with the surroundings -- which have been a Christian or Muslim holy site since at least the fifth century -- shattered, AFP reported.

Hamas's antiquities ministry condemned the "ransacking of historical and archaeological sites" by the Israeli army.

"The crime of targeting and destroying archaeological sites should spur the world and UNESCO into action to preserve this great civilisational and cultural heritage," said the antiquities ministry, which estimates that 104 mosques have been razed since the start of the war.

The Great Omari Mosque and the Othman bin Qashqar Mosque, also in Gaza City, were hit by air strikes on Thursday and Friday, Hamas said.

It also condemned the destruction of the Hammam al-Samara, the last Turkish-style bath in the territory, where Gazans had bathed for over 1,000 years.

Hamas said three churches had also been destroyed, including the 1,000-year-old Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius, the oldest still active in the territory.

It stood in the heart of the historic district of Old Gaza, and was hit by a strike in late October.

Gaza's architectural heritage had already suffered during previous wars between Israel and Hamas, which has ruled the narrow territory since 2007.

Israel, for its part, has repeatedly accused Hamas of using mosques, schools and other civilian infrastructure to shield its fighters.


Saudi Philosophy Association Joins International Federation of Philosophical Societies

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh. SPA
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh. SPA
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Saudi Philosophy Association Joins International Federation of Philosophical Societies

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh. SPA
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh. SPA

The Saudi Philosophy Association has signed an agreement to join the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP), in the presence of King Fahd National Library’s Secretary-General Prince Khalid bin Talal bin Badr and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Philosophy Association Dr. Abdullah Al-Mutairi.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the launch of the Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

The agreement aims to strengthen the position of local philosophy in the arena of global philosophical dialogue, as most philosophical societies from different countries of the world fall under the international organization.

The Riyadh International Philosophy Conference 2023 is under the supervision of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission.


Jeddah Book Fair Launched with Participation of 1,000 Publishing Houses

The Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission logo
The Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission logo
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Jeddah Book Fair Launched with Participation of 1,000 Publishing Houses

The Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission logo
The Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission logo

Saudi Arabia's Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission (LPTC) has launched the Jeddah Book Fair under the theme 'Harbors of culture' in the Jeddah Superdome center.

More than 1,000 local, Arab, and international publishing houses distributed over 400 booths are participating in the book fair, which continues to receive visitors until December 16.

The CEO of the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission (LPTC), Dr. Mohammed Hasan Alwan, praised the unlimited support of the Kingdom's wise leadership and follow-up and guidance from the Minister of Culture.

He said the event “comes within the initiatives of book fairs, which is one of the strategic initiatives of the commission, that aims to make books accessible in all regions of the Kingdom to enhance knowledge and awareness, and provide them to different segments of society."

The Jeddah Book Fair is the third book fair edition organized by LPTC this year, which came after the Madinah Book Fair, held in June, and the Riyadh International Book Fair, held at the end of September, to open multiple outlets for publication and distribution, and make books accessible to the largest possible segment of society to transform the Kingdom to a major platform for the publishing industry.


Lebanon's Manoushe Joins UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List

Lebanon's Zaatar Manoushe (UNESCO)
Lebanon's Zaatar Manoushe (UNESCO)
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Lebanon's Manoushe Joins UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List

Lebanon's Zaatar Manoushe (UNESCO)
Lebanon's Zaatar Manoushe (UNESCO)

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has included the Lebanese flatbread, Manoushe, on its list of intangible heritage traditions.

The Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage has been meeting since Tuesday in Botswana.

UNESCO described on Wednesday the Manouche as "quintessential Lebanese breakfast," saying it is a flatbread dough that is indented using the fingertips and topped with a mixture of thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and olive oil.

The techniques of preparing Manouche and its toppings are usually transmitted informally from parents to children. It is prepared in homes and specialized bakeries and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.

The Lebanese Commission to UNESCO submitted the official application to the committee.

Lebanon's Ambassador to UNESCO Sahar Baassiri said the "practices of making manoushe" are widespread "throughout Lebanese territory."

The application added that rural and urban communities make this kind of thyme flatbread, which is usually eaten at breakfast but is also served as an appetizer at lunchtime with an assortment of savory pastries called "mouajanat" stuffed with cheese, meat, or spinach.

The Lebanese people in the diaspora worldwide also make and eat Manouche.


Morocco's Malhun on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
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Morocco's Malhun on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)
A group of Moroccan artists playing music (UNESCO)

UNESCO will be including Malhun, a popular poetic and musical art, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, announced Morocco's Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication.
Malhun originated in the Tafilalet region in southeastern Morocco, dating back to at least the tenth century. It may have emerged in zawiyas, religious orders, and places for those of faith before spreading to society.
The listing is an international recognition of the authentic Moroccan heritage and a reference to the ancient Moroccan identity and cultural component.
The international recognition is a confirmation of Moroccan efforts under the leadership of King Mohammed VI to conserve the cultural heritage.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture Samira Malizi thanked the evaluation committee and the secretariat of the 2003 agreement for including Malhun on the list.
Malhun is a popular form of poetic expression in Morocco. The verses are sung in dialectical Arabic and sometimes Hebrew.
They are accompanied by music played on traditional instruments, notably the lute, the violin, the rebab, and small drums.
Including Malhun on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is an acknowledgment of its humanitarian significance and of Morocco's efforts to preserve its intangible cultural heritage.
It also rewards the great collective work the Ministry of Youth, Culture, and Communication carried out in cooperation with the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco and Morocco's Permanent Mission to UNESCO.
According to the file submitted by the UNESCO Nominations Commission, Malhun is a popular form of poetic expression directly drawn from daily life, developed according to a specific type of poetic meter. The poems are sung in a melody that gives the words and the narration their full importance.
According to specialists, the term's etymology has two possible explanations. It could refer to the use of a language without observing grammatical restrictions or the Arabic word "lahen" (melody), meaning "musical composition."

 

 


‘Ramadan Iftar’ on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

People gather for a communal Iftar during Ramadan (AP)
People gather for a communal Iftar during Ramadan (AP)
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‘Ramadan Iftar’ on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

People gather for a communal Iftar during Ramadan (AP)
People gather for a communal Iftar during Ramadan (AP)

UNESCO has included the "social and cultural traditions" associated with the Ramadan Iftar, observing the sunset during the holy month, on its intangible heritage list.

The application for the sociocultural tradition was jointly submitted by Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Iran to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Wednesday.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which has been meeting in Botswana since Monday, included the Iftar among the intangible heritage of humanity.

"Iftar (also called Eftari or Iftor) is observed by Muslims at sunset in the month of Ramadan, upon completion of all religious and ceremonial rites," said UNESCO.

Iftar, which follows the sunset call to prayer during Ramadan, often consists of "gatherings or meals, strengthening family and community ties and promoting charity, solidarity and social exchange," it said.

The UN body noted that the knowledge and skills are typically transmitted within families through oral instruction, observation, and participation, and children and youth are often entrusted with preparing components of traditional meals.

During this process, parents also transmit knowledge about the benefits of fasting and the social values and functions of Iftar.


Saudi Arabia, a Hub for Global Sporting Events, Breathtaking Landmarks

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Program has contributed to turning the Kingdom into a regional and international attraction with numerous international sporting events, including the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. (SPA)
As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Program has contributed to turning the Kingdom into a regional and international attraction with numerous international sporting events, including the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia, a Hub for Global Sporting Events, Breathtaking Landmarks

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Program has contributed to turning the Kingdom into a regional and international attraction with numerous international sporting events, including the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. (SPA)
As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Program has contributed to turning the Kingdom into a regional and international attraction with numerous international sporting events, including the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. (SPA)

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Quality of Life Program has contributed to turning the Kingdom into a regional and international attraction with numerous international sporting events, including the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup that the Kingdom will soon host for the first time in Jeddah from December 12 to 22, SPA said on Thursday.
In anticipation of this global landmark tournament, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) is highlighting several tourist, heritage, and cultural sites that Jeddah proudly embraces. One of these sites is Historic Jeddah (Al Balad), which stands out thanks to the support it has received by the Saudi leadership throughout the Kingdom’s history.
‘Historic Jeddah’
Historic Jeddah has received special attention from Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, who launched the "Revitalize Historic Jeddah" project as part of "Historic Jeddah Development Project.” The revitalization project aims to enhance the living environment in the area, making it a vibrant hub for business and cultural projects and a prime destination for ambitious entrepreneurs.
The project serves as a testament of the leadership's commitment to preserving and rehabilitating historical sites, aligning with the objectives of Vision 2030, while showcasing the Arabian and Islamic heritage of the Kingdom as a pillar of the vision.
Historic Jeddah gains significance as a historical crossroads and a maritime gateway for pilgrims heading towards Makkah and a hub for interaction between civilizations. Al Balad was the second area to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site following the Hegra (Mada'in Saleh).
‘Breathtaking waterfront’
Additionally, Jeddah, the Bride of the Red Sea, is famous for its waterfront. This vista makes the city a major tourist destination with visitors from all over the country flocking to enjoy its stunning beachscapes, soft sands, and extensive facilities. Jeddah has also become a year-round hotspot for leisure activities, sports, and entertainment. Visitors line up to enjoy the breathtaking view of the sea and the sky's vibrant colors during sunset. Photography enthusiasts do not miss the chance to capture this moment.
Adding to Jeddah’s maritime magic, the Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina was established on the city’s waterfront, becoming the Kingdom's first tourist marina.
‘Jeddah Flagpole’
The Jeddah Flagpole is another example of the beautiful landmarks that the city embraces, carrying the words of monotheism at a height of 172 meters. Green areas of 9,000 square meters surround the flagpole and thirteen lights are there to represent the thirteen provinces of the Kingdom.
‘South Obhur Waterfront’
Jeddah also embraces its newly inaugurated South Obhur Waterfront project, which features swimming beaches covering an area of 5,800 square meters and dry sandy beaches spanning 10,350 square meters. The project also includes pathways and squares with a total area of 42,000 square meters, entertainment spots covering 560 square meters, and green spaces measuring 27,000 square meters.
‘Jeddah Superdome’
Furthermore, the Jeddah Superdome takes the lead as the world's largest column-free dome. Located on the Madinah Road, west of King Abdullah Sports City, the superdome has an indoor area exceeding 34,000 square meters with a height of 46 meters and a diameter of 210 meters, accommodating 5,200 parking spaces.
The construction of the dome aims to allow the area to host various events and conferences in the governorate.


National Libraries in Arab Countries Urged to Join Arab-Chinese Digital Library

The concluding statement of the meeting stressed the need to activate work of the joint executive committee of Arab-Chinese Digital Library. SPA
The concluding statement of the meeting stressed the need to activate work of the joint executive committee of Arab-Chinese Digital Library. SPA
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National Libraries in Arab Countries Urged to Join Arab-Chinese Digital Library

The concluding statement of the meeting stressed the need to activate work of the joint executive committee of Arab-Chinese Digital Library. SPA
The concluding statement of the meeting stressed the need to activate work of the joint executive committee of Arab-Chinese Digital Library. SPA

The 5th session of the Arab-Chinese Library and Information Experts has concluded at the King Abdulaziz Public Library (KAPL) in Riyadh with an agreement to enhance coordination.

Within the framework of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), held under the theme, "Library Services Transformation Given Changing of Information Environment," the two-day meeting was launched on Tuesday by Deputy Foreign Minister Eng. Waleed bin Abdulkarim El-Kheraiji with the attendance of KAPL General Supervisor Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar, Arab League ambassador Hala Jad, and Arab and Chinese experts.

The concluding statement of the meeting stressed the need to activate work of the joint executive committee of Arab-Chinese Digital Library, which is made up of representatives of the Secretariat-General of the Arab League, the National Library of China, and KAPL, as a permanent mechanism to enhance coordination among parties and provide support to the project.

The statement called on national libraries in Arab countries which are not yet members in the Arab-Chinese Digital Library to join the cultural project and contribute to enriching its content.

Attendees of the meeting also welcomed the decision to hold the next 6th meeting of the Arab-Chinese Library and Information Experts in China, expressing their gratitude to KAPL for hosting this week's meeting and for its efforts in bolstering the Arab-Chinese cultural cooperation.


Education Minister Participates in Roundtable Discussions Between Saudi, British Universities

The meeting was held at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Riyadh - SPA
The meeting was held at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Riyadh - SPA
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Education Minister Participates in Roundtable Discussions Between Saudi, British Universities

The meeting was held at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Riyadh - SPA
The meeting was held at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Riyadh - SPA

The Saudi Minister of Education, Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, participated Tuesday in roundtable discussions between the Saudi and British universities held at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Riyadh.
The meeting was attended by the British Prime Minister's Special Representative to Saudi Arabia for Education, Professor Sir Steve Smith, as well as higher education leaders and representatives from various universities in both countries.
The minister welcomes Smith and representatives of British and Saudi universities in his opening speech, acknowledging the role of roundtable discussions in enhancing the continuous strategic partnership between the two countries in the field of education.
He noted that this partnership commenced in 2018 when Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, and the British Prime Minister signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a strategic educational partnership between the two countries.
"Our strategic partnership focuses on six main fields, which include building a stronger and deeper partnership in the field of education, supporting the professional development of Saudi educators, and enhancing their knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Additionally, it involves strengthening collaboration and partnerships in higher education, including research cooperation, student scholarships, and cross-border education," Al-Benyan said, SPA reported.

The minister also emphasized the importance of working within this partnership, announcing the opening of two British universities in the Kingdom by 2025. He also noted the activation of student exchange programs in Saudi universities to ensure that Saudi students receive the latest knowledge and practical training.

Moreover, he highlighted enhancing research opportunities for scholars from both countries and establishing joint research projects leading to high-quality outcomes.


Deputy Foreign Minister Launches 5th Meeting of Arab-Chinese Library, Information Experts

The session's theme centred on "Library Services Transformation Amidst Changing Information Environments." - SPA
The session's theme centred on "Library Services Transformation Amidst Changing Information Environments." - SPA
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Deputy Foreign Minister Launches 5th Meeting of Arab-Chinese Library, Information Experts

The session's theme centred on "Library Services Transformation Amidst Changing Information Environments." - SPA
The session's theme centred on "Library Services Transformation Amidst Changing Information Environments." - SPA

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Eng. Waleed bin Abdulkarim El-Khereiji inaugurated the 5th session of the Arab-Chinese Library and Information Experts' meeting on Tuesday as part of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF).

The session's theme centred on "Library Services Transformation Amidst Changing Information Environments."

The opening ceremony saw the presence of General Supervisor of King Abdulaziz Public Library (KAPL) Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar, Arab League ambassador Hala Jad, and experts from Arab and Chinese backgrounds.

During his opening speech, the General Supervisor of KAPL stated that the 5th meeting, held in Saudi Arabia at the request of the Arab League, aimed to activate cooperation mechanisms in library and data fields. Its goal was to amplify its role in enriching digital content within Arabic and Chinese libraries.

Deputy Director of the National Library of China Zhang Jun expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for hosting the meeting.

He highlighted the digital transformation achievements of Chinese libraries and advocated for intensified future cooperation among Arab and Chinese libraries.