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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Anachronism That Saudi Arabia is - 2




We are extremely pained to see that the Human rights situation in Arabia is getting worse day by day. There has been hope and expectations among western diplomats and heads of governments to the effect that situations will get better considering the fact that KSA sits on the Human Rights council. Now it is revealed before the entire world that any hope as to the democratization or compliance to human rights in the case of Saudi Arabia are illusions far removed from realities. While a Non Governmental Organization raised the issue of HR abuses, the position in the council was misused by the representative of KSA to obstruct discussion. The presidium had to over rule their points of order. It is to be feared that in stead of correcting themselves, they will try to do every thing in their might to corrupt even the international body. Are we going to realize that wealth is might and might is prone to be misused ? 



 

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al- Saud has been considered as forward looking and reformist. When closely observed, it becomes clear that the very small steps taken end up as ploys to distract the attention of critics. Whatever his personal desires or hopes, his country remains a stumbling block to any attempt at a Muslim renaissance. Viewed from this perspective, the meager measures that have been publicized and welcomed by the civilized world cannot but be understood as taken under pressure and amounts but to calculated maneuvers. When he decided to allow twenty percent participation for women in the Shoora council, it was even hailed as a historic decision


Let us assume that the twenty per cent will work as one block and raise issues in one voice. When it comes to matters which go beyond the Salafi interpreted clauses of Sharia, there is no chance of those getting approved. In a society in which male guardianship is deemed a morally acceptable edict, no effective liberation of women is possible. There wont be change in dress code of women. They wont be allowed to mix with men in public. They wont be allowed to drive their vehicles if not accompanied by a male relative. Children are indoctrinated in their early years. What decisions does the king expect the women will take which the clergy can approve without challenging? The step is destined to end up a mere eye wash!  

How can the Saudi society welcome decisions if at all taken by the women representatives if they go against the traditional norms? How far can a King go against the fanatic clergy? How can he put through reforms while persons directly opposite to his ideology are in charge of vitally important departments?

The fact that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an anachronism is already clear to the civilized world. How can changes be brought about? Either the Wahabi clergy should obediently bow before the monarch's wishes for reform or the Custodian of the two sacred shrines should take upon himself the additional burden of divinity. Facts of Saudi life reveal to us that neither of these is possible. 
 Repeated requests for reform have been ignored or crushed in revenge.

One of the ways to bring about democratic changes is by imparting human rights awareness among the masses. Ironically, the Saudi Judiciary and its police target lawyers and activists who stand for human rights. The sentence slapped on Waleed Abul Khair is being characterized as the most heinous attack on liberty and democratic awareness in this perspective. 

Waleed Abul Khair argued the case of Raif Badawi. In this age of self expression and demands for net neutrality, blogging is a crime in Saudi Arabia. Sophisticated individuals heard the sentence of 1000 lashes to a blogger with shudder.

There is a promise to conduct elections to Municipalities in 2015. What does the regime mean by elections? How many political parties are there in Saudi Arabia and what are their demands? Since it is not an open society, the question is meaningless. What is the use of conducting elections where human rights activists are tortured and imprisoned? It is beyond doubt that any move for creating a condition for enjoying freedom of expression is against the Salafi belief system. 


Elections make sense in an atmosphere of recognizing different view points and belief systems. Shias form the largest minority in KSA - about 10% of population. Through out its history, Saudis oppressed Shias. Even Human Rights activists who advocated for equal rights to Shias are being implicated on false charges and punished. The striking case in point is that of Mikhlif Al - Shammari, 59, who was arrested in 2010. He was convicted of sowing discord. The Specialized Criminal Court on State Security and Terrorism sentenced him to 5 years in Jail on June 17, 2013. He is also barred from traveling abroad for 10 years. Mikhlif had written articles on corruption, double standards and the hypocrisy of the clergy. Though he himself do not belong to Shia community, he stood for improving ties with that minority community. Secularism is foreign to Salafi ideology. No wonder the judicial system there considers him a criminal. He happens to be the leader of the Shammar tribe which includes both Shiites and Sunnis. For more details read the New York Times article dated March 14, 2014.

His prison sentence and travel ban have been upheld by the Appeal Court on 3rd July 2014. He is banned from publishing articles in Newspapers and websites as also appearing in other media.
The latest in the political crack down is the report to the effect that Mikhlif has been summoned to the General Intelligence Directorate in Al-Khobar city. He has been directed to shut down his twitter account (@Mikhlif ) . As is customary with their police department he has been forced to sign a pledge. This time it is to shut down his twitter account within 48 hours! What to follow is his arrest any time ............ 

The democratic world wonders what, after repressing pluralism and human rights activism, Saudi regime might mean by Elections!
Democracy as we understand it can succeed only when the citizen, the common voter, has a correct perspective regarding not only duties but also rights. Where human rights are crushed there is no possibility for sustaining democracy. It is with this realization that many who desire to see a democratic, secular and peaceful Arabia try to publish and circulate e-petitions for signatures so that sophisticated individuals all over the world may bring pressure on their respective governments to do what is needed for desirable transformation. Even though the rights activists are banned from travels abroad and intelligence wing is busy shutting down twitter and such other social media accounts, this anachronism is not going to last long. To speed up change, we too have our roles to play. We can join campaign on twitter. You are requested to sign the various e-petitions the links for which are furnished below:


Join the twitter campaign #FreeWaleed
Please sign the Petition To Free Waleed Abul Khair

Join the twitter campaign #FreeRaif
Please sign the Petition To Free Raif


The king himself has come under severe criticism by one of his former wives for his brutality and abhorrent despotism - cruelty shown to his own four daughters and herself. The forced starvation of two mature women - be they ordinary subjects or his own daughters - goes beyond the comprehension of all who tries to weigh the king's reform proposals.

 Join the twitter campaign  #FreeThe4.
 Please sign the Petition to Free The Four Daughters.

Without serious de-structuring of judicial  and  home departments, talking of reforms is nonsense. In place of a dogmatic sectarian theology, the average citizen has to embrace secularism as his new social vision. Leaving Fatwa culture to the decadent clergy, the people have to imbibe scientific temper. Rather than technology, it is the scientific outlook that should become the most serious concern of the Arabian patriots. Throwing away Hadith texts as worthless trash, in meeting the problems of 21 st century, the new generation has to get acquainted with Humanism as their outlook and guiding principle.

Let There Be Light !!   

Post Scripts:

1. MIKHLIF AL-SHAMMARI SENTENCED AGAIN

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Free The Four Princesses



The recent reports relating to Human Rights Abuses from Saudi Arabia are shocking. 
The monarch has been keeping four of his daughters under house arrest for the last 13 years. They are denied food, and all other amenities for a survival. 10 days ago he had the dates on the trees in the compound cut before ripening thus creating a desperate situation where by the poor victims have no other way but to starve to death.

See the words of the distressed mother

For background information.

Ask leaders of your countries to do what is needed to Free these unfortunate women. Share this information widely so that others may also do what they can to stop this heinous crime to human beings. 

Join #FreeThe4 on Twitter.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Update on Punishment meted out to Raif Badawy on charges of Apostasy


The history of charges and court rulings regarding Raif Badawy's apostasy has been published earlier. We are giving below the third update on change.org petition site by Atheer Al-Ani ,Magdeburg, Germany:





"Raef Badawi, a Saudi who is one of the establishers of the "Liberal Saudi Network", which angered Ultra-orthodox clerics of Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison.
Originally, he was expected to be sentenced to death for apostasy, for instance, as published by AFP:
“A Saudi court on Monday referred a rights activist to a higher court for alleged apostasy, a charge that could lead to the death penalty in the ultra-conservative kingdom, activists said.
A judge at a lower court referred Raef Badawi to a higher court, declaring that he "could not give a verdict in a case of apostasy," a rights activist told AFP. Apostasy means renunciation of a religious faith.
Badawi, who was arrested in June in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for unknown reasons, is a co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network with female rights activist Suad al-Shammari and others.” 




The petition  demands" that Saudi Arabia free and safeguard 

Raef Badawy and stop threatening people merely for 

expressing nonorthodox views on Islam or religion in 

general, because without freedom of speech, one can not 

counter the dangerous beliefs of extremist Islam that leads 

ultimately to terrorism and threatens the safety of all people 

around the world."



We request you to sign the petition to 
free Raif Badawy.





 Please share the petition

 and spread the word.






The twitter hash tag is:  #FreeRaif





                     The petition link




                                                    Thank You.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Join the campaign to #FreeMubarak


Mubarak Bala, a 29-year-old Ex-Muslim Nigerian has been 

forced to undergo psychiatric treatment against his will by 

his father and other family members following his coming 

out as an atheist in a Shariah imposed Muslim state of Kano.

This article will give you an idea of what happened.


Continuous updated information is provided here. 


An example of Mubarak's social criticism:


The Almajiri System



To get information regarding organizational activities:

http://iheu.org/nigerian-man-detained-on-psychiatric-ward-for-atheism/

In order to make this campaign a success, you are requested 

to sign the petition below and share it in social media:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/mohammed-bello-adoke-free-mubarak-bala


The twitter hash tag is:   #FreeMubarak      



P.S.


Mubarak is now free 


Thank you for your co-operation.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Members of Indian Parliament, Why hesitate to enact progressive laws?



Democracy becomes meaningless when Members of Parliament run away from the responsibility to learn new things and educate the masses they represent. Pandering to traditional evil practices might help them to remain in Parliament for some more time. When people become more aware of what is going on the world over, they will find new representatives. Action from the part of the voter is sure to compel them to change if they want to remain as Parliament Members. E- petitions have a great role in educating the unaware and thus bring about possible changes. We request you to read, sign and share the petition aimed at persuading the MPs of Indian Parliament to enact law so as to remove the discrimination against the LGBTQ community in India which finds its sanction in the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. For those who need background information: read this. 

The new petition :

Ask India’s Parliament to Kill Outdated Anti-Gay Laws


Thank You for taking action.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It Is Time For Other Countries To Tell Saudi Arabia To End Repressions



Updated on 25 - 08 - 2014.



Sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison!



Stop implementing the court decision!!



Read This Petition

Sign,

and 

Spread The word 




Original post as background information:

It is reported that Raef Badawi, an Arabian blogger has been recommended to be tried before a high court on charge of apostasy. If proved guilty by the obsolete judicial system, such accused persons are liable to be executed. Blasphemy carries death penalty under their interpretation of Sharia law.

The report


In spite of repeated requests, entreaties and invitations of attention to actual facts by individuals, groups and organizations who have deep concern for human rights, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reluctant to heed. Crimes decided by their laws fit only for a bygone tribal society as also equally cruel methods of punishment have made Saudi Arabia an anachronism. It is high time that other countries in the world wake up and see where the  inactivity by so called democratic countries are leading the global democratic yearnings of the modern world. International fora like the United Nations will become useless if the situation is permitted to continue like this. You are invited to a  CNN report :

Rights group: Saudi activists calling for change face harassment, jail

 

 Please also see the                                                                                                  

'Press briefing notes on Central African Republic, Egypt and Saudi Arabia' 

 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.


All the gains of modernity are being effaced by sweeping tides of irrationality. Can we complacently let a different dark age reign ? 

  For more background information on Saudi abuse of human rights :

 

 

1.   Release Hamza Kashgari


 

2.  Steadfast in pursuing a freer Saudi Arabia

       

 Let there be light!



Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Anachronism That Saudi Arabia Is - 1



Updated on 11 - 10 - 2014


Even though the ban on female driving caught the attention of the international community and enough protest was raised, the authorities did not heed to the desire of the civilized world. The Saudi women and their helping male friends have decised to rev up the campaign. The online petition is becoming a huge success. We are providing here the link to text of the petition in English as well as the petition itself.


Original Post


   Driving While Female



One might think these are stories made up by idiots. Many do not take such stories seriously. What if they are true? I am telling you about the struggle of Arabian women for the right to drive their cars! The clerics, the police and the state in Saudi Arabia are anxiously at war against women. Literally they are!
Women are banned from driving because the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam has found out that if allowed, the deviation would undermine the very structure of Saudi Arabian Islam. The country has no written law banning women from driving. Some of them possess International Driving licenses. The Saudi authorities do not issue drivers’ licenses to women.

Arabian Human Rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider challenged the ban. The video showing her driving is available on the internet. (1). This was a message for women to drive on Women’s day 2008.
There were reports of an arrest of a woman in her 20s in Mecca in 2009.
On Saturday, November 07, 2009 , Saudi Gazette reported detention of two female professors of King Abdul Aziz University the previous day.(2).
It is guessed that there can be very many cases which were never reported anywhere. Even a Saudi princess made public statement to the effect that she had driven outside and wanted to drive in her country. (3).
Rym Ghazal writing for National Geographic  says there were protests in 1990 and 2011 and dozens of women participated in driving opposing the ban. A CNN report mentions that 47 women drove through Riyadh in the first demonstration.  Some were fined and jailed, some lost jobs and status in society, and were shunned by a superstitious society. (4,5) . In the “Women2Drive” campaign of 2011, dozens of women drove through streets of their cities, it reports.
A petition signed by more than 12,000 on the website,   www.oct26driving.com
asked the authorities to lift the ban. The online movement urging women to drive cars on October 26th  gained popularity within and without the country.
 It is said that the site was blocked on Friday afternoon and was replaced by a message, “Drop the leadership of Saudi women”. A leading cleric had issued a scientific fatwa to the effect that driving could cause damage to the ovaries and pelvises! He warned of clinical problems. (5).
On the eve of the planned protest, Turki al-Faisal, the interior ministry spokesman warned that even online support for the campaign could invite arrest. By Friday night the campaign organizers dropped the October 26th specification.
France 24 reported that at least 16 women had been fined for defying the ban. The campaign was entitled “Women’s driving is a choice”. They not only were fined but had to sign a pledge to the effect that they would respect the kingdom’s laws. (6). France 24 notes that this discriminatory policy is against ‘UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women’ which Saudi Arabia had ratified in 2000.
According to TIME World, “On Saturday, more than 60 women said they defied the ban, although they faced little action from police.” It notes that men , most of them in their 20s and 30s were active in the campaign. The help provided by men seems to be crucial: “In the run-up to the weekend protest, men played a key role in helping wives, sisters and female friends to enjoy what they believe is a fundamental right.
Since the campaign was launched in September, they have produced videos of women driving and put them on social networks.
They have helped protect the female drivers by forming packs of two or three cars to surround them and ward off potential harassment.
And some have simply ridden as passengers with the women as they run their daily errands.”(7). From their views quoted, it is clear that they have the right perspective. This source further tells us about the now popular, “No Woman, No Drive” video: “Alaa Wardi of Riyadh, who says he is not involved in the campaign, has produced an online video called “No Woman, No Drive,” using a Bob Marley song to mock comments by a prominent sheik who said driving can harm a woman’s ovaries. It has had more than 8 million views since Saturday.” (8).
It is gratifying to note that several men knowing that their help in this respect might end up in risking jobs, getting detained and jailed, not to speak of social ostracizing, quietly helped to gather momentum for the movement. They know perfectly well that women are an essential part of social revolution.

Human Rights watch observes: "After more than 100clerics visited the Royal Court, the office of the king, to protest “the conspiracy of women driving,” as one cleric called it, the Interior Ministry issued a statement on October 23 warning that officials would enforce the law on October 26, when women were to drive. Saudi activists said that on October 24 a man who said he was from the Interior Ministry individually phoned women activists behind the “Women2Drive” campaign, warning them not to drive. He told them that officials would take measures against all women who defied the driving ban, and that women caught driving could be taken into custody. Some women who had planned to drive on October 26 decided against it, they said.” In spite of warnings, intimidations, harassments and obstructions, the campaign gets strengthened with the call to ‘normalize driving’.  The authorities are out to go to any extreme. The movement proposes to continue driving in public and posting videos or photos of themselves online. Twelve films have been posted on You Tube. The Guardian reports from activists: some other women had also driven but without recording their exploits on video or in photographs.(9, 10). According to the activists more than 60 took part which means October 26 demonstration is the biggest of all the ban demonstrations held in Saudi Arabia. They also report that they have succeeded in garnering 16,600 signatures on the online petition demanding change. One of the positive features of the campaign is the effective use of social media especially Twitter.

Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch said: “Saudi authorities are retaliating against people who want a very basic right for women, the right to get behind the wheel and drive themselves where they want to go. The authorities should end the driving ban and stop harassing people for supporting women’s rights.”(11).
On 30, October 2013 (Wednesday), The Guardian reported the news of detention of Tariq al-Mubarak who was an active supporter of the campaign. A school teacher, he used to write in a daily, ‘Ashraq al-Awsat’. Though he was contacted regarding a stolen car, the criminal investigation department was interrogating about his activity in the campaign. His friends  who went to the investigator’s  office in the hope of  bringing him back were also detained for hours and interrogated. The Guardian says: “He said the courts in Saudi Arabia did not have sufficient provisions to deter those who threatened others against exercising their freedoms because "rights and freedoms … are not instilled in our culture, nor our interpretation of religion".
Mubarak, who also works as a schoolteacher, was among a core group of Saudis calling for women's right to drive. Around 60 women claimed they got behind the wheel on Saturday to oppose the ban. The campaign angered the kingdom's ultra-conservative religious establishment.”
Global Voices has correctly pointed out the unmistakable part played by the Saudi Government in the ban. Tariq al-Mubarak has been in detention since 3 p.m.,October 27th  without access to relatives or legal help . (12).The success of the campaign has angered the clerics and the bureaucracy. 



Please see the Post Script below. Tariq has since been released.

* The petition below was  delivered to:

The Saudi government

King Abdullah Al-Saud
 and

Closed with 125 supporters



You are requested to sign the online petition addressed to King Abdulla asking for the release of Tariq al-Mubarak:


    TheSaudi King & government: Free Tariq Al-Mubarak

     https://www.change.org/petitions/the-saudi-king-government-free-tariq-al-mubarak 

(If the above link does not work, kindly copy and paste in your browser) *

Post Scripts:

I. Tariq Al Mubarak has been allowed to return home. We thank all members and readers who co-operated and did what they could to end his detention.

II. a. The Courageous women continue driving- 1


     b. The Courageous Women continue driving- 2

 Ref:

      8.  NoWoman, No Drive  

      9. Saudi Arabian women vow to keep up campaign against driving ban 

       10.  YouTube channel of the October 26 driving forwomen group

      11. Human Rights Watch

        12.  Global Voices