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Saudi Arabia: The leading violator of human rights in the world

Posted by jagoindia on November 15, 2008


Saudi Arabia – Focal Point of Tyranny, Terrorism and Fallacious Interpretation of Islam
Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, November 12, 2008

The complete article  can be accessed here. Below are the interesting points:

Saudi Arabia is a leading violator of human rights in the world. Citizens´ basic human rights are violated every day. Torture is common, and arbitrary arrests are widespread. The government bans the formation of independent human rights and civil society organizations.

Religious freedom in Saudi Arabia does not exist. Non-Muslims are banned from practicing their faith or even possessing its symbols and artifacts. The government also imposes severe restrictions on its citizens, and especially on those who do not follow the Wahhabi strain of Islam.

The religious policies of the Saudi government have contributed to the rise of extremism and terror groups worldwide, including Al-Qaeda and others. Saudis are leading contributors of money and support to international terrorist groups and make up the highest numbers of suicide bombers around the world, which often occurs with either the direct support or the tacit approval of Saudi authorities.

The Saudi educational system provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists. The textbooks currently used in Saudi schools, including those in the U.S. and Europe, preach hatred toward other Christians, Jews, other religions, and even most Muslims.

Saudi Arabia leads the world in discrimination against women and is the only country that practices gender apartheid. Women are treated as the property of their male guardians, and are legally considered unfit to make their own decisions.

The Saudi government does not allow women to vote, study most sciences, work in public, drive, play sports, hold senior public positions, travel alone, mix with men, or attend public gatherings.

Freedom of the press is severely limited by the Saudi government through direct intervention and the resulting self-censorship of reporters and editors. Independent media is not allowed in the country and those who operate on the internet are blocked and prosecuted.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest absolute monarchy in the world today under the sole rule of the tribe of al-Saud. The country is characterized by a complete absence of mechanisms that allow for public participation in the political process.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ruled by a single tribe that maintains a complete monopoly on power by using its princes to ensure loyalty. The Al-Saud tribe controls the army and the security forces that are used to suppress dissent in the kingdom, often violently. The Saudi equivalent of a constitution is the basic law that was issued by royal decree in 1992. The absence of accountability mechanisms permits the government to operate behind a veil of secrecy and avoid public scrutiny. Members of the ruling family are immune from prosecution and are officially exempted from laws applied to Saudi citizens.

In 2007 King Abdullah established a Succession Commission that has further consolidated the power of the Al-Sauds as the sole political force in the country, denying Saudi citizens any role in choosing future monarchs.

The only elections in Saudi Arabia are for 50% of the seats in largely powerless municipal councils. Women are banned from voting in those, which effectively shuts out 54% of the population. Saudi Arabia stance on women´s participation in the government is reminiscent of the South Africa´s apartheid regime that banned blacks from voting, except segregation in the kingdom is based on gender and not race. Additionally, all members of the ruling family have boycotted municipal elections by refusing to vote.

Political parties and groups in the kingdom are banned, and dissent is not allowed. The government routinely arrests citizens based on their political views; these dissidents are subject to arbitrary detention and even torture. The leading academic Dr. Matrook Al-Falah has been incarcerated in solitary confinement since May 2008 for peaceful criticism of treatment of political prisoners.

Freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia is severely limited. Government critics face sanctions at work and are often targeted for arbitrary arrests and detention by authorities. Government forces (acting on orders from senior officials) use anti-terror crackdowns to round up democracy activists. Earlier this year, the Saudi Arabian government detained 10 men on accusations that they were terrorist financiers. The American government suspects that only two of the men were actually involved in terrorist financing, and suspects that the rest were pro democracy activists.

The Saudi government of King Abdullah bans movie theaters, and music concerts in the country. There are no music teaching institutions in the country, public or private, due to government bans.

Saudi Arabia leads the world in discrimination against women and is the only country that practices gender apartheid. Women are treated as the property of their male guardians, and are legally considered unfit to make their own decisions. The Saudi government does not allow women to vote, study most sciences, work in public, drive, play sports, hold senior public positions, travel alone, mix with men, or attend public gatherings.

Saudi Arabia earns the title “World’s Worst Violator of Women’s Rights” due to a long list of discriminatory practices against women. Contrary to King Abdullah´s “reformer” image, he supports some of the harshest forms of discrimination against women. For example, King Abdullah chairs the annual festival “Janadriya” (dubbed “Festival of Segregation”) that bans women´s attendance, except on “Women Only Days”.

In 2002 the King warned women nurses and doctors at the King Fahad National Guards hospital in Riyadh from driving golf carts used to travel within the hospital grounds. Marriages of female children as young as seven years old continue to happen with government approval.

Lack of Religious Freedom

Religious freedom in Saudi Arabia does not exist. Non-Muslims are banned from practicing their faith or even possessing its symbols and artifacts. The government also imposes severe restrictions on its citizens, and especially on those who do not follow the Wahhabi strain of Islam.

Anyone who fails to follow the official state religion in Saudi Arabia faces harassment, imprisonment, and torture. Conversion from Islam is punishable by death under Saudi law. Those born to non-approved religions, including Christians (both residents and transients), Jews and non-Wahhabi Muslims, such as Shia’s or even other Sunni sects, face harsh treatment by the Saudi regime.

The Saudi government bans Christian, Buddhist and other expatriate workers (which number in the millions) from celebrating their religious and cultural holidays, including social and national holidays. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world without a church despite the presence of millions of Christians in the country. It is also the only country in the world to ban its residents from celebrating the Western New Year and Valentine’s Day.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia takes full advantage of religious freedoms and rights worldwide, and has financed mosques in major world cities such as Washington DC, London, Dublin, and Vienna. Saudi government-sponsored imams are free to lead these mosques and even spread their doctrines of hatred via Saudi sponsored schools outside of the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia maintains a tight grip on the nation´s clerics. Access to government television and radio, and local media is restricted to the Wahhabi clerics funded by the Saudi government or the ruling tribe. The government does not employ Shia clerics for its religious institutions or allow them to appear on TV and radio.

Blasphemy and Apostasy Cases

Saudi Arabia leads the world in trying people on the charges of apostasy and heresy. The victims are typically Shia Muslims, non-Wahhabi Sunnis, or Saudi secular and liberals. The court system is controlled by the Wahhabi religious establishment that views other religious schools and opinions as heretical.

The threshold for convection in Saudi courts is very low, resulting in easy convictions without, in some cases, any evidence at all. The majority of apostasy cases have been prompted by the accusations of religious police or Wahhabi zealots, which are rarely verified independently.

Shia Muslim victims included Sadeq Mallallah, executed in 1992, Mohsen Al Turki, jailed in 2007, Hadi Al-Mutif, on death row since 1993, Ali Al-Misaad, spent 8 months in prison, Mohamed Al-Wail spent 18 months in prison after a death sentence was canceled by King Fahd. Recently, two Turkish Alevi´s were released from death row in Saudi Arabia after the Turkish President and Prime Minister intervened directly with the Saudi King.

The Hadi Al-Mutif Project for Human Rights Institute for Gulf Affairs

1900 L Street NW, Suite 309
Washington DC 20036, USA
Tell: 202-466-9500
http://www.gulfinstitute.org
Email: media@gulfinstitute.org

One Response to “Saudi Arabia: The leading violator of human rights in the world”

  1. AustinTXGal said

    Thank you for this very informative post. I lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1979 and 1980. From what I’ve read, things have not gotten better for women since then. As an American woman living there with my husband and small children, I was treated well by local people, but I was aware that there was a huge divide between me and the local women. I’m surprised that Saudi Arabia is considered the leading violator of human rights in the world. They do have “honor” killings and even public beheadings. News they don’t want people to have is ripped out or blacked out of magazines and there are other forms of censure. I felt safe when I lived there, but even as an American woman, I had to always travel with a man.

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