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Home Archived Newsletters Newsletter - August 27, 2008

Newsletter - August 27, 2008

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Saudi News

Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami

Severe Exclusion of Saudi Women Continues

Director’s Comment: The Saudi government, its rigid religious establishment and its apologists, including some Saudi women, fault tradition and religion for denying the overwhelming majority of Saudi women full citizenship at home and prevent them from competing in domestic, regional and global activities such as the Olympics. Yes, religions, traditions and chauvinism play roles in discrimination against women every where, but in many countries all citizens are protected by codified rules, non-sectarian judicial systems and the rule of law that protect them from each other and from excessive governmental abuses. The two main reasons behind discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia are men’s obsession with women’s sexuality and the exoneration of the government’s full obligations toward all citizens, such as full employment, health care system, equal opportunities, social cohesiveness, and political and civil rights. Saudi women are as capable, intelligent, determined and as aspiring as their counter parts every where. All they need is freedom to explore and to use their potential to build a stronger, forward looking and stable society that is no longer beleaguered by destabilizing religious, gender and socioeconomic divides. Read Original Article

Illegitimate Gulf Rulers

Director’s Comment: An Iranian official’s recent provocative designation of the oil rich Arab states’ rulers as “illegitimate” is neither new nor incorrect. All Arab Gulf States’ rulers are illegitimate as none is popularly elected and the feuds and mistrust between Sunni Arabs and Persian Shiites’ are centuries old. Such are unlikely to be resolved as long as Arab and Persian theocratic elites use religion to control, oppress and marginalize their people and discriminate against non-Muslims. Iran’s intent now is to radicalize Arab Gulf States’ large and vocal Shiite populations against their autocratic Sunni Arab rulers and to remind them that Iran is in a position to cause trouble for these states if they support any efforts by the US and/or Israel to carry out attacks on Iranian nuclear faculties. Iran is now the most powerful country in the Gulf region and is in a position to cause disproportionate damage to the weak Arab rulers and to plunge the region into a conflict where no one’s economi c interests would be served. Iran wants also to remind the US and the rest of the world that if attacked militarily, the consequences could be severe, including closing the Straight of Hormuz through which most of the Gulf’s oil is shipped. Read Original Article

So much for the Forbidden

Director’s Comment: There is a cliché in Saudi Arabia that says something like this: Get rich from the forbidden and I can do what I forbid you from doing. The story of the high ranking Saudi judge below is a small illustration that explains how the cliché came about. The use of drugs in Saudi Arabia is punishable by imprisonment, flogging and heavy fines. Drug traffickers receive the death sentence. These harsh arbitrary laws are said to be based on the Sharia’h law as interpreted by Saudi religious authorities and implemented by judges like Hamad Salim bin Naif who “was arrested along with his Moroccan wife after police raided their room in a Dubai hotel on Friday and found four grams of hashish in his possession.” Such news is neither surprising nor new to the Saudi public. In reality, hypocrisy, bribery and double standards are not only common, but expected and accepted as part of day to day Saudi business conduct. Saudis are forbidden from consuming alcohol, but that does not mean people d on’t consume large quantities privately. Those who get caught drinking or using other forms of drugs are taken to prison and without legal representation to religious courts presided over by religious judges who issue verdicts on the spot according to the mood the judge happens to be in.

The question is how do alcohol and other drugs get into Saudi Arabia where traffickers are sentenced to death if caught? Many Saudi citizens and expatriates are convinced that the majority of alcohol importers are members of the royal family or people under their protection. They get away with this practice because they mostly don’t pass through Customs at airports, harbors or border crossings. If they do pass through Customs no one dares search or inform on them. Read Original Article

If it’s not Wahhabi it’s Sin

Director’s Comment: The very popular romantic Turkish soap operas, “Noor” and “Lost Years”, aired on a London based Arabic Satellite TV (where men, unlike in Saudi Arabia, are not allowed to play God and have to sweat for a living) have taken the sexually starved Arab people by storm. In response to these shows, the highest Saudi religious authority, the Mufti, is condemning the TV station, those who watch the show and those who made it. “Any TV station that airs them is against God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). These are serials of immorality. They are prepared by people who are specialists in crime and error, people who invite men and women to the devil.” While the Mufti is religiously moralizing, his discomfort is less than divine and more an obsession with women’s sexuality which is the trademark of Saudi men from the King down to poverty stricken shack dwellers. In the eyes of most Saudi men, women are the source of all evils. Saudi men feel and act as if God created women to lure men to commit “evil” acts. Read Original Article

Child Trafficking is Justified under Saudi Religious Law

Director’s Comment: Marrying children at age 10, 11 and 15 is not against the Shari’ah law in Saudi Arabia nor is forcing young girls to marry criminals on death row. The wrenching content of the article below is not the exception nor is there any effort under the Saudi law to punish the perpetrators of such heinous crimes against defenseless children. This is due to the Saudi government’s use of religion to justify man’s supremacy over women. According to some Saudi clerics a man can marry a one year old girl, but has to wait until she reaches puberty to sleep with or more likely rape her. Sadly, as Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its holy shrines what happens in Saudi Arabia is emulated in many Muslim countries. Read Original Article

Kittens are Threat to Saudi Morality

Director’s Comment: While all eyes and ears are occupied with the Olympics in Beijing, the Saudi theocrats are busy doing what they do best: issuing Fatawas, religious edicts, and royal decrees to ban anything that might bring a little joy to people or encourage harmless conversations, especially between men and women. The Saudi government’s religious police found the sales and ownership of little kittens to be a public annoyance and a threat to Saudi moral values. As on many other occasions, excuses authorities use to ban, enact or obfuscate are different than the intended target. Even though the present battle of the kittens is ostensibly carried out to ensure public peace and moral values, whatever that means, the real objective is to prevent people from engaging in discussion about anything that is not in line with the government policies. The Saudi government’s police consider gender mixing (integration) un-Islamic; therefore, it must be banned and violators must be punished. This policy ha s very little to do with religion or tradition, but has a lot to do with keeping the population divided and antagonistic toward each other. Anything that might hint otherwise is considered un-Islamic (a Western intrusion) therefore unacceptable and must be banned. The kittens’ threats are only the most recent nonsensical act taken by desperate and paranoid men who fear for their absolute rule. Read Original Article

Trafficking of Expatriate Maids in Black Markets

Director’s Comment: Reducing Saudi women’s status to that of second class citizens makes it that much easier for Saudi men to treat expatriate women as slaves. Although no reliable statistics exist, Saudi Arabia hosts an estimated seven to nine million expatriates to prevent the Saudi economy and public services from collapsing. A sizable number of the mostly poverty stricken Asian expatriates in Saudi Arabia are women dubbed maids but they are essentially slaves, used for whatever their employers or masters desire. Like most expatriates in Saudi Arabia, these low paid and grossly overworked maids’ passports are confiscated upon their arrival in the country. They almost become the possession of their employers. They have no legal, civil or judicial recourse against the globally documented abuses they incur at the hands of their employers. Maids live in their employers’ homes where they work 24 hours a day if required. They receive meager salaries and sometimes they don’t get paid for long perio ds. The maids’ home governments and embassies in Saudi Arabia don’t dare intervene on their behalf for fear of losing their oil and a share of the money handed out by the Saudi royal family. Read Original Article

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