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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 !!   

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