Given its trenchant influence on 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide and its position in the world’s oil market, Saudi Arabia cannot be disregarded or surrendered to an absolute monarchy that encourages the oppression of women and religious minorities, and fosters domestic extremism and international terrorism. A constitutional, democratic government combined with the rule of law, is the best hope for the long term prosperity and unity of the people of Saudi Arabia. This prospect will give Saudi citizens a say in decisions that impact their daily lives and empower them to join the international community as respected equals. A democratized Saudi Arabia will no longer be an incubator for intolerance and terrorism; instead, the result will be a responsible, accountable and productive society, ruled by laws created by its members, not by leaders who invoke fear and resentment. This outcome is in the best interests of the Saudi people, the United States and all democratic societies.
The Saudi government forbids the practice of any religion other than the state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam (Wahhabism). Worship for Muslims in Saudi Arabia is compulsory and during times of worship, all shops, restaurants, radio and television stations must close. Those who do not comply are subject to interrogation, humiliation, imprisonment and flogging. If non-Muslims are caught practicing their faiths in public, they are routinely taken to filthy detention centers and left to languish under harsh conditions. If they are foreigners, they remain in these conditions until they are deported. If religious prisoners come before a court, they face a biased judicial system staffed by extremist judges, who consider non-Muslims and religious minorities to be infidels.
Women in Saudi Arabia are less represented in political, social, economic and scientific fields than women in any other Arab or Muslim country. Women were barred from participating in the only municipal elections in the history of the Saudi state in 2005. They are prohibited from studying certain subjects in schools, such as chemistry and biology. They may not legally drive and must obtain “permission” from a male “guardian” to travel within or outside the country. Women must ride in the back of public buses, even when the buses are empty. Saudi girls are not allowed to play sports in schools, which, by Saudi health official admission, is causing health problems and staggering expenses. All marriages are arranged by male relatives. If a Saudi woman divorces her husband, she loses custody of her children over age six. Women have little or no freedom to effectively prosecute sexual abuse cases, being required to produce four witnesses. In court, a woman’s testimony is equivalent to half that of a man’s. These conditions violate women’s human rights and have devastating personal and social effects.
Under the current political and social system in Saudi Arabia, expatriate foreign workers, as well as the religious and ethnic minorities of Saudi Arabia, subsist without legal rights or protection. The Saudi government’s harsh discriminatory policies touch almost every aspect of the daily lives of millions of people inside Saudi Arabia.
Religious minorities in Saudi Arabia (mainly Shi’a Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Christians) all face severe discrimination in employment and education and are forbidden from openly practicing their religion. Even non-Wahhabi Sunni Muslims are discriminated against.
|< Prev||Next >|