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Home Archived Newsletters Newsletter - June 03, 2009

Newsletter - June 03, 2009

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Saudi News

Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami


Four Urgent Issues (ticking bombs) That Must be addressed

Director’s Comment:

While there is an intermittent and unpredictable movement to introduce reforms in Saudi Arabia, major issues demand urgent attention, immediate planning and implementation in a timely, transparent and steadfast manner. Prominent among these issues are: empowerment of Saudi women, religious tolerance and freedom of worship, eradication of rampant corruption, transparent and balanced distribution of wealth, and addressing the burgeoning needs and expectations of the restless Saudi youth. The youth issue is perhaps the most urgent and potentially explosive phenomenon Saudi Arabia faces today. If this issue is not addressed in a judicious and serious manner, it could plunge the country into costly civil strife.

Saudi youth make up about 60% of the population, yet the Saudi government has failed to recognize their modern needs, expectations and hopes for a lifestyle and secure future comparable to those of their counterparts in affluent and free societies.

Lack of tangible solutions for the issues listed above could lead to a dangerous outcome, namely, an increase in the power and influence of extremist elements in Saudi society and government. Internal Saudi problems are real and are homegrown. They are not the creation of external enemies usually blamed for ills facing Saudi society.

Saudi allies in the West, especially the US, could support Saudi reformers, whether royals or commoners, in their efforts to move Saudi Arabia toward political participation of all citizens. Without the Saudi people’s full participation in the decision making processes, the country will continue to drift toward an uncertain future. Such instability could compel the US and other energy-dependent countries to intervene militarily to secure the production and flow of oil, without which the world’s economies would collapse.

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Eradicating the Root Causes of Terrorism

Director’s Comment:

Saudi Arabia has become synonymous with religious intolerance and suicide bombers. Sadly, there is some truth to these assertions. While the Saudi government has cracked down on terrorists within its territories and has even built luxurious centers to rehabilitate ex-terrorists, no serious and strategic efforts have been made to eradicate the root causes of extremism: oppression, poverty and religious indoctrination. Young Saudis are still incited to travel the globe to fight “the infidels” not only Christians and Jews, but also Muslim minorities and Hindus, among others.

Eradication of religious intolerance requires a total transformation of the Saudi educational and religious institutions. This includes, but is not limited to: the closure of schools and mosques that teach animosity toward non-Muslims, Muslim minorities and women; the introduction of classes that teach human rights; the creation of non-sectarian codified laws tolerant of all faiths; and the end of public and private financial support of groups and governments that use religion as a tool for oppression.

The accomplishment of this formidable task will require a strong civil society in which power emanates from the will of the governed, not from a self-appointed autocratic dynasty. Global pressure can play a constructive role in ridding Saudi Arabia and the world of institutions that breed deadly extremist ideologues.

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Use of Deviants

Director’s Comment:

The Saudi royal family is obsessed with its security as evidenced by its massive expenditures on all forms of military hardware and the most modern surveillance equipment that money can buy. Security is a basic human right as is freedom of thought. The suppression of freedom of thought by the state, in all its forms and applications, must be universally rejected. The Saudi-Wahhabi alliance has created a cult of religious extremism that has been used for centuries as a tool of social and political control to advance extremist goals.

However, this fanatic ideological cult has become an uncontrollable monster that is turning against its creators and former masters. Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups have adopted the same methods of mind control learned from the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance to mobilize disaffected Muslims against the Saudi government itself.

The Saudi government is now attempting to reassert its lost control over the extremist monster (read “deviants”) it created and used in the past to intimidate and manipulate its population by establishing “scientifically based” re-education programs.

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He Loves Them as Long as They Produce Good Men

Director’s Comment:

Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Naif, who is likely to become King, recently addressed a group of women’s college employees and said, “The woman is responsible for bringing up generations of good men… We love her, appreciate her and protect her dignity at any cost, for her to live a good life…We are proud of you the young girls of today and the mothers of tomorrow.”

Prince Naif’s sentiment reflects that of the religious and political ruling elites of Saudi Arabia: women’s role in society is to please men and produce “good men” not good women. Prince Naif is known for his opposition to women driving, voting, running for office and having financial independence. His ministry hires, instructs and controls the ferocious religious police that terrorize women in malls, restaurants and even in the holy mosque in Mecca. Saudi women do not need this kind of love and protection if it means denying them their natural rights to be complete human beings with the ability to propel their lagging society toward a brighter, more egalitarian and tolerant society.

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"Saudi women push for business equality"

Director’s Comment:

Many courageous Saudi women in business, academia and the media are leading the way for reforms within their fields in Saudi Arabia. CDHR has been tracking recent activities of businesswomen trying to re-activate a decree announced by the Council of Ministers, the King and heads of major ministries, several years ago allowing women to obtain business licenses without male permission. However, Saudi businesswomen are still required to hire male overseers (wakeel) to manage their businesses, especially the enterprises that serve both sexes. Saudi businesswomen want the Wakeel system removed so they can be in control of their businesses. This would enable them to protect themselves against theft and losses that sometime occur as risks of the Wakeel system.

By managing their businesses and becoming financially independent, Saudi women will contribute to their economy and society in general. Empowering Saudi women will affect other reforms that serve the best interest of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the international community. Saudi Arabia plays a major religious and economic role in the lives of many. Granting Saudi women their full rights will tilt the scale toward further reforms including: economic prosperity, stability, tolerance, political participation and the eventual eradication of religious extremism.

Lasting reforms will have to come from within Saudi Arabia, but global input will also be necessary and its importance must not be underestimated in correcting discriminatory policies.

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The Root Causes of Social Ills

Director’s Comment:

“A woman by law cannot work without the consent of her father or husband; he can stop her from work and choose where she may or may not work. By law, a woman cannot travel without the consent of a male guardian; he can stop her from attending a conference or spending her vacation with family and friends. Banning driving for women and not providing proper public transportation is another kind of abuse. It is unfair and uncivilized to neglect women and children and keep them prisoners in their own homes awaiting male family members who have long working hours, to take them out for a breath of fresh air or a visit to the doctor or a meeting with family and friends. The law that prohibits women from conducting their own business without a male guardian is a human rights violation. It allows the male member to rob and dominate her business and dictate his own rules thus depriving her of financial independence and the freedom to excel and prosper; moreover, the lack of entertainment for the family as a whole has deprived Saudis of a lot of family joy and happiness.”

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Religion as a Tool of Abuses

Director’s Comment:

In Saudi Arabia, religion has become a tool of intimidation, coercion, discrimination and oppression. This is not an accident, but a policy supported by the political and religious power brokers and those aiming to strengthen their image and position in the society. Youth, women, and democratic thinkers are commonly oppressed, condemned and imprisoned because they have supposedly offended God or imitated the “infidels.”

Read Original Article (English)
Read Original Article (Arabic)


Staggering Increase in Expats in Saudi Arabia

Director’s Comment:

The number of expatriate laborers, engineers, doctors, nurses, maids and drivers in Saudi Arabia had risen to ten million in 2008. The question that Saudi media, intellectuals and those on the street dare not ask aloud is: why import millions of workers while the female half of Saudi society is denied the right to work? Many of these women are highly educated, intelligent and want to work. Women have been forced into financial dependency on men’s handouts and to accept men’s total control over their lives. Additionally, Saudi statistics document high unemployment among Saudi males, especially youth. These idle and disillusioned young men become prime targets for extremist recruiters.

The Saudi government has been talking about the “Saudization” program of replacing foreign workers with Saudis for the last three decades, yet the number of expatriate workers continues to grow while the employment of native Saudis is proportionately static or declining. This is not accidental nor is there a lack of capable Saudi men and women willing to work. Saudi officials and their apologists argue that Saudis are lazy and will only perform managerial jobs. However, the Saudis’ preference to work in management rather than in other positions is not rooted in laziness or tradition.

Whatever decisions the Saudi royal family makes are designed to ensure its exclusive control over the country, its people and its wealth. The Saudi royal family fears that full employment would create a financially independent, educated middle class that would threaten the House of Saud’s control over every aspect of people’s lives.

In addition, while the overwhelming majority of expatriates in Saudi Arabia are laborers, maids and private family drivers, some sensitive jobs are performed solely by expatriates. Most private royal bodyguards, prison interrogators, pilots and trusted advisors are not Saudis. The royal family does not trust its own people to perform such secret and sensitive tasks, which would give its citizens the power to expose the true nature of the Saudi system.

Most of the expatriates in Saudi Arabia are there to stay. They will be naturalized or remain permanent residents, but not because the Saudis cannot or do not want to work. Their presence serves the status quo.

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