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Home Archived Newsletters Newsletter - September 10, 2009

Newsletter - September 10, 2009

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Saudi News

Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami

Close call from a Close Distance: Who Are the Deviants?

Director’s Comment:

CDHR was established to promote the eradication of the root causes of extremism and its byproduct, terrorism, through the transformation of Saudi institutions and the empowerment of the largely disenfranchised citizens, especially women. CDHR condemns the suicide attack on Prince Muhammad bin Naif, the Saudi Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs, on August 27, 2009, that took place in the living room of his heavily fortified palace. The prince was lucky to have escaped the attempt on his life and declared that the “Attack has increased my resolve to fight terror.” The question is how, and with what? The Saudi Interior Ministry, which Prince Mohammed and his father Prince Naif operate, is known as a chamber of torture and extraction of false confessions by brutal force including beating, electric shocks, water drowning, sleep and food deprivation and reportedly sexual assaults. These shocking acts are not only carried out against prisoners, but against members of their families according to unsubstantiated reports by former prisoners. As one religious judge replied to a prisoner who was asking for mercy after being tortured, “If they don’t torture you, how are they going to get the truth?”

By now the Saudi authorities should have concluded that beheadings, torture, intimidation, frequent arrests and lengthy imprisonment without charges, do not deter desperate people (defined as “deviants”) from penetrating heavily protected palaces in order to seek revenge on those who control every aspect of people’s lives. The Saudi people would like to know exactly who these “deviants” are. Are they religious extremists as the term implies? If that’s the case, then dry up the swamp that conceives hatches, incubates and nurtures them: the Saudi educational and religious institutions. If they are reformers and highly educated people like the 44 professors, scientists and businessmen who were arrested between July 9 and August 2, 2009, then that’s another matter. This requires a serious review and implementation of the unavoidable: A participatory and inclusive political system where all citizens, including royals, are empowered to share the burden of managing their affairs in order to help chart a safer, more stable and brighter future for their country. The bold attempt on Prince Mohammed’s life should be a sobering wake up call that the ruling elites must take seriously. They need to learn, not how to perfect their methods of torture, but to reconsider their insistence that the country is their private property and only they have the right to govern.

Read Original Article


No going back in Demands for a Change

Director’s Comment:

The Saudi authorities have thus far insisted that domestic violence is committed by religious extremists even when facts such as the arrest of 44 highly educated professors, scientists and businessmen between July 9 and Aug. 2, 2009 defy such claims. As reported in the attached article, the majority of the arrestees hold Ph. D’s. in advanced and sophisticated electronic sciences among other fields. They are also reported to have had long term relationships with Al-Qaeda’s leadership in and out of Saudi Arabia. It’s worth noting that Al-Qaeda is dedicated to overthrowing the Saudi ruling family and like the Saudi royals, bin Laden uses religion to rally support for his quest to de-legitimize the Al-Saud character and rule. The suicide attempt on Prince Mohammed’s life (the second man in charge of overseeing the country’s (royal family) internal security) on August 27, 2009, as well as the arrest of 44 highly educated professionals are proof of two things. First, the Saudi government refuses to admit that it’s not just disgruntled religious extremists “deviants” who want to change the system. Second, that the tight Saudi security system will not stop individuals who are determined to do the House of Saud in. Contrary to what the Saudi government, it’s defenders and supporters, both domestically and globally claim, the country is not stable and it will not take much to create disorder in a country that is already severely divided along religious, regional, gender, ethnic and status lines.

Saudi Arabia is a religiously and economically influential country, therefore its stability matters to the Middle East and the international community. It has had strong ties with the US since its inception; consequently no one believes that the US will accept any threats to Saudi stability from within the country or from the outside. Empowering the Saudi people, especially women, will help stabilize the country and save the world another costly conflict which could lead to global economic collapse and religious conflict which some people argue that it has already begun.

Read Original Article


Proponents and Opponents of Male Guardianship or as Some Call It, Slavery System

Director’s Comment:

Defending a system that could be described as male ownership of women is incomprehensible, especially when the defenders are women as elucidated in the attached article. Saudi governing intuitions are abysmally unique in their treatment of women in general, but specifically the sanctioning and enforcement of the “male guardianship” system, where most Saudi women’s lives, livelihood and movements are controlled by male relatives. Even though tradition plays a role in this denigrating practice, the Saudi government enforces it in employment, travel, buying property, opening bank accounts, managing businesses and in life threatening situations. For example women cannot have their babies delivered or receive medication for life threatening situations without the presence of a male guardian or written permission by a male relative.

Many Saudi women resent and reject this system privately and publicly. Prominent among the campaigners against the male guardian system is Wajeha Alhwaider, an engineer in the oil industry and human rights activist. She has been challenging the male guardian system by attempting to travel outside of Saudi Arabia without male written permission, but has been turned back by the Saudi border authorities every time she tried.

In response to those opposed and want to remove the belittling male guardian system, a group of Saudi women started a campaign called “My Guardian Knows The Best For Me.” It is suspected that this campaign is instigated by male relatives of these women and religious establishment. Regardless of who is behind this backward response, it is a setback for Saudi women who are already afflicted by official and societal punishments, simply because they are women. It’s worth noting that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are officially barred from driving.

Read Original Article


Little Girls Can Run, but They Cannot Hide, Literally

Director’s Comment:

Welcome to Saudi Arabia, the land of mosques, compulsory prayers, oil, the ubiquitous absence of civil society, rule of law and basic protection for citizens from the abuses of their government and its pre-modern institutions. Prominent among the badly abused citizens are women in general, but specifically young girls. As this heart wrenching story elucidates, children are wed (sold in some cases) to men older than their grandparents under the Saudi system. Under Shari’ah Law, such practices are legal and enforced by the Saudi courts which are staffed by men only trained in austere religious schools.

Ironically, Saudis complain of being targeted by Western media and human rights groups for no other reason than a misunderstanding of their faith by non-Muslims. Perhaps non-Muslims don’t know enough about Islam, but they witness and realize what’s being done according to Islam’s teachings, at least in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims see women bundled up (disfigured) in black garments, denied the right to drive, manage their businesses, or rent apartments to live in by themselves. They read in their newspapers that 40% of the suicide bombers who go to kill innocent Iraqis because of their religious orientation are Saudi religious extremists. People witnessed what happened on 9/11 and found out that 15 out of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals. They read about the oppression of Saudi religious minorities, expatriates and beaming religious sermons that condemn non-Muslims all year round, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Given these facts and more, the Saudis make it very easy for people to reject them, their religion, traditions, and even presence.

Read Original Article


Censorship by any Measuring Stick

Director’s Comment:

Flow of information in and out of Saudi Arabia has been documented as being one of the most censored and filtered in the world. In an effort to ensure its total control of all forms of information, the Saudi government is seeking to establish a governing system to censor internet news websites. The good news is that social networking sites such as facebook, myspace and blogs cannot be controlled with ease. This is especially true because of the growing number of male and female internet users in Saudi Arabia. It is the only means available (other than cell phones and blackberrys) to them to communicate freely with anonymity.

Incredibly, the Saudi information censors tell internet users that they want to license website news in order “… To facilitate its work in a regulated environment allowing for “freedom of movement and use of news conducted in complete freedom and professional integrity.” In essence, the government is trying to control what people think and what they can say.

Read Original Article


"Extremism is the Womb of Terrorism"

Director’s Comment:

The recent attempt (Aug. 27, 2009) on the life of a powerful prince in the living room of his heavily fortified and well guarded palace, led a Saudi expert to characterize Saudi religious extremism as the root cause of terrorism. Mr. Mashari Al-Thayadi told his country men that it is time to focus on the root causes of violence, religious extremism. Even though this topic has been intensely discussed in the media globally, and the CDHR website for years, it has hardly been discussed inside Saudi Arabia until recently. Most Saudis and their fore parents have known and experienced nothing other than religious totalitarianism since the formation of the Saudi-Wahhabi state in 1932. This practice remains the same and unless there is an irreversible transformation of the Saudi religious, educational and political institutions, extremism will continue to plague the country, the Muslim world, and the international community. The Saudi government holds the key to defusing and ultimately eradicating the root causes of religious extremism and its byproduct, terrorism. The international community has a role to play in convincing the Saudis to do more than just begin discussing what the world has already concluded. The Saudi people have absolutely no say in the decision-making process, and those who rule them can not survive without the support of the ones they refer to as “deviants.”

Read Original Article (in Arabic)


Food can be Produced at Home

Director’s Comment:

Under a visionary, accountable, and advanced management system, Saudi Arabia could feed itself as well as export food. The Asir and Southern regions have some of the richest soil in the Middle East. There is substantial rainfall in these regions, and if the water was collected, it could provide most of the water needed to grow crops all year round. Any additional needs could be met by desalinated water from the Red Sea and sent to other regions through well constructed pipelines. The same water desalination process can be replicated in the Eastern Province to increase dates and other agricultural production. The same system could be duplicated in the Northern Region. There is a need for modern institutions, accountability, public scrutiny and non-sectarian technocrats who are free to think, invent, and use their ingenuity to serve their people and save their country.

Instead of relying on its own people and land, the Saudi government imports about 10 million cheap laborers. The government collaborates with private businesses in order to rent and or buy farm land in poverty stricken countries like Ethiopia and ship the harvest back to Saudi Arabia.

Read Original Article

 

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