onsdag 25. mars 2015

The moral bankruptcy of the Saudi regime

Last week Saudi newspapers, especially the Saudi edition of the Middle East, were filled with denunciations and condemnations against the Swedish Foreign Minister's remarks on the Human Rights situation in the Arab kingdom.

The official Saudi reaction occupied considerable space in the news. It was the first page issue March 17th, and was covered daily for a week. The news was followed up with echo statements from Gulf brothers in Bahrain and Emirates, interviews with prominent Saudi lawyers and the permanent ambassador to the UN. The latter, Faysal ibn Hasan Tarad, accused “some international foreign parties” by politicizing Human Rights and drain them from their content and high value. He claimed that these parties close their eyes for crimes against Humanity finding place in Palestine, Syria, Burma and elsewhere, and misuse Human Rights to attack the sovereignty of other countries.


On the debate pages one could read polemical post where the case of the blogger, Raif Badawi, was equated with Violent Islamists activities on the internet which in some cases is punishable by European laws. It is explained that Badawi by breaking the religious law has violated the rights of other citizens.
This reading may lead to frustration for some enlightened Arab readers, believers or non-believers, or it may anger others. It is definitely not pleasant.

Let me first summarize the response of the Saudi regime. In a strongly worded statement issued by the Council of Ministers and its head, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Riyadh threatens to review its relations with Sweden. The statement rejects interference in the internal affairs of the state and denounces what it refers to as "assaults" by the Swedish Foreign Minister.

What captures my attention in particular is that the main argument is based on the sovereignty of the state. This principle that derives its legitimacy from the International Law and the UN agreement from 1945 is dear and precious to the rulers in dictatorships. The question that arises is whether the Saudi regime considers this principle worthy of respect without exceptions and regardless of the nature of political power, I mean, whether political legitimacy is derived from the will of the people or not.

What is the opinion of the Council in similar cases such as the building of Israeli settlements on occupied land against the decisions and principles of the United Nations? And what about the Serbian regime s attacks on the Albanian Muslim minority? Does the Saudi leading Council mean that Milosevic could demand other countries to stop "assaulting" the Serbian state and interfere in its internal affairs, and just continue to violate human rights as he and his military officers wished?
There is of course a difference in the seizure and nature of the violating acts, but it is not a principal difference.

Human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia against secular individuals, women, homosexuals and migrant workers are well known and documented. Anyhow this seldom leads to condemnations in clear words from politicians in other countries.

The only reason for the silence is the oil-muscles of Saudi Arabia, the black gold which is exchanged by American dollars, with which regional influence is bought. This is what puts the sticker on the mouth of everyone. When someone opens his| her mouth and speaks contrary to the views of the ruling family, and it is considered harmful to the interests of the Saudi power, the person gets a flogging. When the person represents the government of another country, she is flogged by harsh diplomatic statements. This is the recipe, the language of force, not civilized debate and diplomacy.

The official statement insists that the Saudi law system is independent and based on Islamic law that "ensures complete justice to all and that all are equal ... and that freedom of expression is guaranteed for all in the context of Islamic law."
(My underlining)

In the area of ​​women's rights the Council of Ministers stresses that Islamic law "ensures fair gender equality and that the regulations do not differentiate between men and women." (My underlining)

The truth is that the judiciary in Saudi Arabia belongs to the remote past. Specific historical processes have kept it alive. The relationship between political power represented by the family Saud on the one hand, and the religious authority that is based on the doctrine of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab goes back to the alliance between them in the nineteenth century. The sword united the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula and the clerics, Ulama, gave the winner religious legitimacy.

Despite the glittering facade and signs of modernity on the surface, the large buildings, modern road network and high-tech equipment, and let's not forget the most advanced weapons imported from industrialized countries, modernity and the desire to import have not reached the political system and the fossilized explanations of Abdul Wahab.

When the Saudi regime puts the arbitrary and obsolete law system over all citisizm, claiming that it is based on Sharia, this is not convincing for Muslims spread in all countries of the world. When the Council waves with the placard: "The principles of Islam, which are followed by one thousand and five hundred millions Muslims in the world, are non-negotiable", it completely ignores the concrete reality.

The majority of the world's Muslims believe in a quite different Islam than the Wahhabi school preaches. In both Muslim and non-Muslim countries they are subject to written and predictable judicial Codes. They are against penalties such as stoning, whipping and heading.

The Saudi regime attempt to balance between two worlds that cannot meet, the contemporary free world that is based on democracy and human rights on the one hand, and the old world and its concepts of governance and religion on the other hand, is doomed to fail.

The statement concludes thus: "Assault of judicial systems and cultural patterns because of mere disagreement with the pattern in other countries, is incompatible with the foundations and principles of the international community about the need for respect for religions and social and cultural diversity of the peoples."

It is well known tones.
The Saudi regime resorts to this mixture of exotic and abstract rights holders, religions and peoples, not individuals. I am sorry to conclude that the official Saudi statement is characterized by double ethical standards and selective argumentation, it totally conflicts with logical and rational thinking.

How long will the Saudi power be able to curb criticism from home and abroad?
Perhaps until the day the leading family gets aware of the new reality in the global economy. The World is on its way to develop sources for clean and renewable energy.

When the value of black gold falls in the stock market, in not too distant future, will the Saudi leaders have enough shares in the international community s moral capital?
The freethinker Raif Badawi is still in prison
Sword execution in Saudi Arabia