Friday, December 7, 2012

Lessons for the Rest of the Arab Autocratic Dynasties in the Gulf

CDHR’s Commentary: The ruling Al-Sabah Family of Kuwait is known as the least oppressive of the Gulf rulers. The family has also been throwing monies into people’s pockets, as well as into social programs, education, the health care system and even generous dowry stipends for decades. Politically and socially, the rulers of Kuwait are fairly liberal by the Gulf Arab standards. Obviously, these generous handouts and lenient ruling methods are not good enough for the Kuwaitis, especially the social media generation, as recent protests have shown.

People want the freedom to think for themselves and to rule their country in accordance with 21st century’s values: individual liberty, accountability, transparency and rule of law instead of family, religion and men’s rule. This is what the Bahraini people are fighting and dying for and soon the same will erupt in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Emirates. Unlike any other Arab country, violent unrest in Saudi Arabia will cause unimaginable bloodshed even by the Iraqi, Yemeni, Libyan and Syrian standards. This is due to the violent nature of the Saudi system, partially instigated by the rulers' claims of ownership over the country as well as unresolved tribal, religious and regional issues. This scenario can be averted, but time is running out.

Instead of focusing on buying sophisticated military hardware for billions of dollars, the Saudi ruling family should wake up and embark on extensive reforms such as elections of the Shura Consultative Council and local municipal councils by all Saudis, men and women, above the age of 18. They should also transform the judicial system by staffing courts with capable and well-versed people instead of religious judges. 

Ignoring the inevitable or continuing to buy their way out of trouble is not going to be enough for the Gulf rulers and what is happening in in Bahrain and Kuwait is a glaring lesson that should not be overlooked as people are forced into violence in order to obtain their legitimate rights. 

If the Saudi rulers continue to manipulate power and public wealth, they will find themselves in the same position that the rest of the Arab rulers have and still are facing. This position is exemplified by the recently installed Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, whose palace in Cairo is surrounded by demonstrators chanting “Erhal”, or “leave” in Arabic.. The Gulf ruling families' allies in the West should be advising their clients to change the course before they lose it all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saudi Obsession with Women and Fear of Their Power

The Saudi obsession with women's sexuality and fear of their power to expedite the collapse of the crumbling status quo is not accidental. Since the inception of the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance in the mid-18th century, one of its tactics has been to divide and conquer. The country has been divided along gender, regional, religious and ethnic lines since its formation in 1932. 

However, things are changing thanks to social media, which is being used extensively by Saudis (in and out of the country) to discuss sources of oppression, such as the religious establishment, that have preyed on society in order to ensure its control in the name of god and in accordance with Saudi interpretation of Islam.
Women are rising up and demanding their legitimate and basic rights while the system continues to hold onto dated and unsustainable methods of ruling that became outdated two centuries ago.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saudi-Financed International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue

CDHR’s Comment: At the opening of the Saudi-financed King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the Saudi head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, is reported to have said that the Center “…would promote human values, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people of different religious faiths and cultures.” His misleading speech was amplified by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud Al-Faisal, who said that, “the sectarian differences are to be elements for understanding and not elements for collision.”

The question that must be asked of Dr. Al-Sudais and Saud Al-Faisal is how they can go around the world promoting religious tolerance while at home they discriminate against their Muslim minorities and consider them heretics. 

Saudi Arabia is the only country where non-Muslims cannot practice their religious rituals openly and if caught doing so privately, they can be punished and deported. “Peaceful coexistence” means live and let live regardless of cultures, compulsory dress codes, gender, ethnicity and above all beliefs. 

Why have Dr. Al-Sudais and Saud Al-Faisal not condemned the endemic discrimination against Saudi religious minorities, oppression of women in the name of god, and complete intolerance of non-Muslims? Saudi officials and their apologists cannot fool the world anymore, thanks to modern technology and many courageous Saudi men and women who openly denounce their country’s religious extremism and discrimination against people because of their religious orientations and gender.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Movie from Hasan Mahmud: "Divine Stone"

Posted as received: Muslims are looking at themselves, their religion, and its impact on their societies.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Intensifying and Expanding Moral Religious Doctrine into the Heart of Central Asia

CDHR’s Commentary: In collaboration with the incredibly weak and corrupt Afghani government, the Saudi monarchy has recently announced that it will invest $100 million in building one of the largest Islamic Centers in the world atop a mountain overlooking the Afghan’s impoverished capital, Kabul.   The Center will be managed by the Saudi religious establishment and the Afghani Ministry for Hajj and Religious Affairs. The proposed King Abdullah’s Center will accommodate 15,000 worshipers at a time and provide an education for 5,000 religious students. The Center will be named after King Abdullah, which is not surprising since there are already three massive Islamic centers and mosques named after Saudi monarchs: King Fahd’s Centers in Culver City, California and London, England, and King Faisal’s Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, which is considered Pakistan’s national mosque.

Afghanistan is the poorest country in  Central Asia, coming in nearly at the bottom of the human development index, with abysmal literacy and education rates, an almost complete lack of women's rights, low life expectancy, and wrenching high mortality rates for children, with nearly a fifth of all Afghan children dying before the age of five. The 100 million dollars the Saudis will invest in the Kabul Islamic Center could be better used for programs to improve literacy, infrastructure, or healthcare for the impoverished Afghan people; instead the Saudi King has decided to spend a huge sum of money to propagate Wahhabism in a country where most of the citizens are already religious zealots.

Outside interference by foreign powers has long plagued Afghanistan, but nothing can top the Saudi “Wahhabization” of the country; the establishment of King Abdullah’s Center in Kabul is yet another example of this. The Saudi government hopes to socialize and indoctrinate a new generation of religious students for political aims, just as they have in the past by means of the infamous Saudi funded madrassas in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which continue to be the primary source of recruitment for the Sunni Taliban extremist groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries in the world to give diplomatic recognition to the extreme Taliban regime during its draconian rule over Afghanistan.

The construction of such a monumental religious institution in Afghanistan's capital is a maneuver by the Saudi rulers to ensure that their doctrinal hegemony remains not only over Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of the majority of foreign forces in 2014, but over all of the Sunni Muslims in Central and South East Asia, especially in the oil and other resource-rich former Soviet colonies.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

State-Imposed Social Taboos Result in Tragedies

CDHR’s Commentary: Due to the Saudi government’s harsh and unnatural policy against all forms of public musical and theatrical entertainment, Saudis resort to dangerous and illegal activities such as the outlawed nomadic tradition of live ammunitions to celebrate their “victories” or happy occasions. As shown in this article, such celebratory gunfire led to the deaths of more than twenty people due to the bullets damaging electric wires during recent wedding festivities.  Live public music and dancing are prohibited because they are considered un-Islamic, and therefore must be banned.

Joyous activities are considered diversionary behaviors that interfere with people’s focus on prayers, God, and the goodwill of the rulers in Saudi Arabia. In other words, happy indulgences are considered evil or “the West’s decadent inventions,” designed to corrupt Saudi moral values and destroy Muslim cultures. The Saudi government and the Wahhabi religious establishment fear a population that is not always somber and concentrating on their devotion to Islam, as interpreted by the religious extremists and sanctioned by the Saudi rulers. They consider entertainment debauched, they strictly ban movie theaters and severely censor television shows, and they prohibit women from participating in sports, publically and privately.

Many Saudis spend their holiday breaks and annual vacations in Gulf countries in order to experience entertainment denied to them in their own country. The majority of movie theater goers in neighboring Bahrain during weekends and holiday periods are Saudis citizens. It is estimated that one million Saudis crossed the border to celebrate their most important religious holiday, Eid Adha, in Dubai to get away from their country’s stifling taboos and indulge in social activities not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Others resort to secret or banned activities such as playing in underground bands, knowing that they could be arrested and punished by the system’s omnipresent spying agents, specifically the state’s religious police, who enforce their interpretation of religious laws on all citizens and expatriates regardless of religious beliefs and orientations.

The tragic deaths and injuries during the recent Abqaiq wedding celebration in, eastern Saudi Arabia, as well as many other unreported incidents, could have been avoided had normal entertainment such as a musical band been allowed to entertain the families and invited guests, instead of forcing the celebrators to fire their guns in the air to show their joyous passion during weddings and other occasions and in the process, cause the deaths of innocent people.

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