Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, Washington DC
January 13, 2011
Saudi News & Analysis
Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami
Reforms a Myth
Arbitrary Abduction Remains Intact
Director’s Comment: Despite royal decrees, domestic and foreign praise for King Abdullah’s judicial and other reforms, the Saudi political and judicial (religious court) system remain allusive at best. The abduction of Law Professor Mohammed Abdullah Al-Abdulkarim by agents of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif on December 5, 2010 is only one of many arbitrary arrests, incarcerations and abuses of innocent people for simple expressions of thought. Professor Al- Abdulkarim is a peaceful reform minded Saudi citizen who wrote a thoughtful article and posted it on his facebook site explaining the negative impact on Saudi citizens of royal palace fights over the throne, policy and bigger pieces of power and wealth.
In democratic and advanced societies, Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Abdulkarim would have been invited to talk shows to elaborate on his analysis and be challenged if he erred in presenting the truth. The same thing would have been applied to other Saudi reformers like Mr. Dham Al- Sammari, Shaikh Al-Reshudi and many others who languish in Saudi prisons for expressing their views on social, political and religious issues that are plaguing their fragmented society. The Saudi people could have benefited from these reformers’ public debates; instead they are languishing in Saudi dungeons without charges or open trials.
Saudi Arabia is faced with unprecedented internal and external mortal threats and unless inclusive reforms, especially freedom of expression and self-critique, are initiated, institutionalized and implemented transparently, the country will keep sliding toward religious and political totalitarianism, anarchy and domestic strife.
Ministry of Education or an Agent of Subjugation?
Director’s Comment: “The Saudi Ministry of Education” is joining the on-going social war against Saudi women. Saudi women are the only people on this planet who are officially prevented from practicing sports in their segregated schools publicly and when they are discovered organizing sports teams privately, they become targets of investigations and interrogations and risk subjugation by the Ministry of Education which should be encouraging them to develop their mental and physical potentials and skills. This is done under the watch of King Abdullah who is dubbed as a savior.
The Saudi Ministry of Education discovered that an all-girls school in Jeddah organized women’s sport teams in Dec. 2010 to compete with each other; in response, the Ministry launched an investigation to conduct what amounts to intimidation and punishment for conducting “illegal activities” according to the director of the “Girls Education Department in Jeddah”, Ahmed al-Zahrani (male); "We don't have any regulations that say that it's okay for girl schools to hold sports classes or training…This tournament was held by these schools, something that has now led us to know about their illegal activities."
The question is what harm would playing sports in segregated schools do to Saudi society? Camaraderie and a healthier population in a society that is known for suffering from obesity? The problem is that the system is weak and paranoid to the point where it considers any public gathering (except in controlled environments and places of religious indoctrination such as mosques) and exchanges of ideas among men and women as a threat to its survival and control over all aspects of people’s lives and movements including sweating on sizzling basketball courts during Jeddah’s suffocating summer days.
It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia, under the absolute rule of a primitive political and religious system, is the only country on earth where the overwhelming majority of women are denied their basic right to decide the kind of life they want to live. They are the only women on earth who are condemned, by their government, to grinding immobility and total financial dependence on men who in many cases are less educated, competent and visionary than the women whose lives and livelihoods they control. Saudi women are the only people anywhere who are officially prevented from driving. They have to beg men (their male guardian) for written approval to seek work, to travel, to go to school, to deliver their babies in hospitals and to obtain life-saving medication or treatment.
The genders and their educational institutions, eateries, place of work and even entrances to banks are officially segregated and institutionalized in every aspect of Saudi society. This apartheid system is enforced by the Saudi government’s violent religious police, Matawa’in or “domesticators”. Those who dare challenge such arbitrary, destructive and Machiavellian policies can incur heavy punishment, including public humiliation, imprisonment and flogging in public squares.
This is happening at a time when many Saudis are engaged in intense discussions to determine whether women were created with human rights on this planet or only whether such rights only exist in the imagination of hallucinators, like this writer. That’s being said, no one can compete with many Western apologists, intellectuals, government officials and recipients of Saudi larges who are all over themselves glorifying Saudi King Abdullah as the reformer and liberator of the 21st century.
Nothing Short of Total Submission
Director’s Comment: As has been documented repeatedly, Saudi women face more economic, social, political, religious and judicial impediments because of their gender than most women in Muslim and Arab societies let alone in advanced democratic and egalitarian societies. Regardless of root causes of Saudi women’s oppression, there is nowhere for them to seek justice and ensure their place in society as full citizens or even as thinking human beings in some cases under the autocratic and theocratic Saudi systems. Despite intense debate about women’s rights, the royal appointment of one woman to a deputy ministerial position and a the election of a few women in internal elections in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, Saudi women had more rights to travel, work and participate in feeding their children sixty years ago than they do today under King Abdullah’s rule.
As the attached article shows, the Saudi system is designed to treat women as men’s possessions. This destructive treatment of Saudi women has negative implications for Muslim women and for the international community. This is due to the fact that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its holy shrines toward which most Muslims face and pray five times a day. Excluding Saudi women from full participation in their society and decision-making processes, especially in matters related to their children’s education, empowers religious extremists who are in charge of the Saudi religious and educational institutions.
The world can benefit from empowering Saudi women.
Secretary Hillary Clinton on Empowerment of Women
Director’s Comment: In a recent speech in Washington, DC, Secretary Clinton declared that "Women's equality is not just a moral issue, it's not just a humanitarian issue, it is not just a fairness issue. It is a security issue, it is a prosperity issue, and it is a peace issue. Therefore when I talk about why we need to integrate women's issues into discussions at the highest levels everywhere in the world, I'm not doing it just because I have a personal commitment or because President Obama cares about it. I'm doing it because it's in the vital interests of the United States of America."
We applaud Secretary Clinton’s powerful statement and wish her strength to do what she said not only in luxurious settings and gold plated palaces with ruling elitists, but in public hall meetings in places like Saudi Arabia where empowering women will undermine religious extremism and its byproduct, terrorism as she correctly stated in the leaked WikiLeaks’s cables. “It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority…donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”
Silencing Voices of Reason and Liberty Seekers
Director’s Comment: It’s not enough that Saudi officials and some intellectuals want to silence Saudi democratic reformers, liberty seekers and human rights advocates like Al-Dumani, Al- Hamed, Al-Faleh, Al-Shamarri, Al-Huwaider, Law Professor Al-Abdulkarim, Shaikh Al- Reshudi, blogger Al-Farahan and many others. They want to silence freely elected officials such as British Parliamentarian Sarah Wellston from expressing her views regarding oppression of Saudi women by the system her country helped create and has supported since its creation in 1932.
Sarah Wellston was elected to represent her community residents’ needs, views and concerns about domestic, national and international issues and values their country and government are involved in. Her job is to expose her government’s shortcomings on behalf of the people who elected her, to serve them as opposed to having them serve her. She can speak, write, criticize and never worry about being abducted in the middle of the night by secret police as is the case for many Saudi promoters of a better accountable system.
Wajeha Al-Huwaider, the unnamed target of the litany of accusations in the attached article is a Saudi citizen who advocates equal rights and liberty for millions of marginalized Saudi women. Despite what the attached article implies Al-Huwaider does not hate her country or its ruling autocratic and theocratic men whose polices and institutions deny her and millions of Saudi women, and men, their basic human rights.
Emaymeh Ahmed Al-Jalahmah, the skillful writer of the attack on Sarah Wellston and Wajeha Al-Huwaider could serve her country best by writing about the root causes of the multitude of political, social, economic and religious ills and injustices that plague Saudi Arabia and jeopardize its people's future, lives and livelihood.
Read Article (in Arabic)
Killing and Uprooting Christians in Arab and Muslim Countries
Director’s Comment: While the murdering and uprooting of law abiding, tolerant and industrious Christians and those who promote religious freedom, respect for the sanctity of life and freedom of choice in Arab and Muslim countries are blamed on a few extremists, the facts on the ground tell different stories.
The increasingly frequent murderous rampages in recent months against Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Iran among others left scores of worshippers dead, wounded and terrorized. Imagine if Muslims are viciously attacked, killed and maimed while worshipping in London, Paris, San Francisco or Stockholm. Millions of Arabs and Muslims would be demonstrating in the streets, burning Bibles and flags and boycotting products of countries where crimes are committed; death fatawi would be issued. Arab and Muslim governments and their controlled media would be encouraging their oppressed populations to fight the non-believers.
Most Muslims and their apologists in the West blame murdering and uprooting of Christians from their homeland on “deviants”; however the root causes of atrocious attacks on innocent worshippers can be found in Muslim text books, heard in mosques and taught in schools. These are facts that cannot be denied. The Quran, Shariah and Hadith are translated into dozens of languages that anyone can read. Sermons by Muslim preachers quoting Muslim religious texts to incite violence against non-Muslims, Muslim minorities and Muslims who convert to other religions are continuously broadcast over modern visual and written technologies such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The murders of Christians in Arab and Muslim countries are not carried out by a few deranged individuals as Muslim regimes and their institutions want us to believe. Rejections of non- Muslims and their beliefs are institutionalized in many Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam and home to its shrines and headquarters of The Organization of Islamic Congress which gives marching orders to its member states as in the case of the Danish cartoon depicting Mohammed in an unfavorable light.
The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization based in Washington, DC. CDHR provides new and accurate information for the benefit of the public, the business community and policy makers about the current situation in Saudi Arabia. CDHR’s goal is to help bring about a peaceful democratic transition from a single-family autocratic rule to a participatory political system where the rights of all Saudi citizens are protected under the rule of civil laws.
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Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
1050 17th Street NW, Suite 1000
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Phone: (202) 558-5552, (202) 413-0084
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