Friday, September 17, 2004

Saudi Arabia and religious freedom

According to Reuters, Saudis are saying that being put on the blacklist of the countries with no religious freedom was politically motivated and not a reflection of the actual situation. They got it backwards: the fact that they hadn't been put on the list before that is politically motivated. They have belonged on the list ever since they and the list existed. The fact that they are being listed there now for the first time just shows how many human rights violations our leaders are willing to disregard for political reasons.

'"I can't say Saudi Arabia is the freest country. But it is the cradle of Islam. Are they proposing to have churches or synagogues or Buddhist temples here?" said Abdulaziz al-Fayez, a member of Saudi Arabia's consultative Shura Council. '

"Is it all right for Israel to say their state must be a Jewish state -- and then criticize a Muslim state for being Muslim? That's hypocrisy," said Khalid Dakhil, professor of political sociology at Riyadh's King Saud University.

I can only imagine the howling that would rise from Saudi Arabia if Israel, being the cradle of Judaism, banned all mosques. Also if Greece and Italy, being the cradles of Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism respectively, did the same. Saudis seem very generous in donating money for mosque construction in predominantly Christian countries.

"All Saudis are Muslims and this is a Muslim state," said Abdulaziz al-Fayez. Therefore, apparently, its subjects don't need freedom to practice other religions. What if a subject decides to convert to another religion? No problem, they've got death penalty for that, after which the person will, again, have very little need for religious freedom.

They don't even mention little things like Moslems who practice a different brand of Islam from the officially sanctioned one. Shiites and other horrible heretics, you know. They are doing fine - at least being a Shiite is not punished by death.

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