Al-Ahed Telegram
Bahrain Crackdown: Friday Prayer Ban in Diraz Remains in Place N Korea Brands UN SG a «Henchman» of US UK Driving Licenses May No Longer Be Recognized In Europe after Brexit Egypt: School Sets a Real Fire to Start a Fire Drill! Indian Surgeons Remove Heaviest Brain Tumor! UN Wants Prosecutions for S Sudan War Crimes Florida School Shooting: WH Could Find Funds to Train, Arm 1m Teachers ’Israeli’, US Troops Gear Up For Joint 12-Day Juniper Cobra Drill Residents Welcome Pro-Gov’t Forces amid Turkish Op in Syria’s Afrin Syria: West Only Cares for Terrorists, Not Damascus Civilians #AbuMahdi: Haj #Mughniyeh Founded, Supported #Iraqi #Resistance Factions #AbuMahdi: Sayyed #Nasrallah Is Our #Symbol and #Voice #AbuMahdi: #Israel's Existence is Under Question Today Deputy Chairman of #PMU Speaks at Commemorative Ceremony for Haj #Imad #Mughniyeh #Facebook, #Instagram Down: #US, #Europe & #Asia Hit by Major Outage - Users #Kremlin: #Russia, Allies Not Responsible For Situation in #Syria's #Ghouta #Gaza: #Cyber Attack Downs Communication Networks, Bans nearby Settlements from Sending, Receiving Calls Court in #Bahrain sentences prominent activist #NabeelRajab to 5 years in prison over tweets #Erdogan: #Turkey will lay siege to #Syria's #Afrin in coming days Sayyed #Nasrallah: Minister Mohammed #Fneish will be in the next government and thus he is not among our #parliamentary candidates
Guestbook mailinglist.php arabic site french site spanish site facebook twitter rss page
News Categories » Files » Files » Selected Articles

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size  Print Page
The Dark Underside of Saudi Arabia the Crown Prince is Loath to Change
Editorial Board

One view of Saudi Arabia was on display at the just-completed World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the kingdom sought to reassure investors and show off traditional Saudi food, music and culture. The finance minister, Mohammed al-Jadaan, declared, "Saudi Arabia today is different. It's not Saudi Arabia five years ago." He and other ministers extolled the "Vision 2030" blueprint for modernization championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young go-getter who has vowed to overturn the kingdom's hidebound ways.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

But the old Saudi Arabia was still evident back at home. On Thursday, two human rights activists, Mohammed al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, were sentenced to 14 and seven years in prison, respectively, for briefly founding a human rights organization about five years ago. No matter that they heeded the government's demands to close it; the prosecution painted such things as publishing human rights reports, disseminating information to the news media and retweeting posts on Twitter as criminal acts.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince rightly sees the need to satisfy a restless younger generation by cracking down on endemic corruption, diversifying the economy away from oil and easing the tight grip of the religious police. Women have deservedly been celebrating moves to permit them to drive and attend sports events. But beneath it all, the crown prince has been overseeing the same intolerant and brutal approach to free expression and human rights that was a trademark of his predecessors. This is a dark underside that the crown prince apparently does not want to change.

The prosecution of Mr. Otaibi and Mr. Attawi was full of absurd twists. They and two others set up the Union for Human Rights in April 2013 and issued several statements on social media. They were summoned for investigation less than a month later. They promised to close the organization. Then they applied for a formal license to open the nongovernmental organization but could not get one. Mr. Otaibi and Mr. Attawi were warned again to stop their activities in 2014, and they again pledged to do so. Then, in 2016, the case was reopened. In March 2017, Mr. Otaibi left the kingdom for Qatar, where he managed to win asylum in Norway. As he prepared to depart for Norway, he was apprehended at the Doha airport and returned to Saudi authorities. The punishment last week was imposed by the Specialized Criminal Court, the Saudi terrorism tribunal, which has often been used to punish dissidents and critics, and it was clearly designed to send a message to any others who dare advocate human rights.

All who are intrigued by the crown prince's ambitions should take note of the stubborn persistence of old thinking when it comes to liberty and rights. Raif Badawi, a blogger who envisioned a more enlightened Saudi Arabia, was imprisoned and flogged for his ideas, and remains incarcerated. The twinkling promises for overseas investors at Davos cannot mask the fact that Saudi Arabia is still what it was five years ago - a dungeon for those who dare speak out.

Source: WP, Edited by website team

29-01-2018 | 14:43

Comment Title
Human Verification

News Coverage

Related News

To Top