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Reform in Saudi Arabia?? 5, February 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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In recent weeks I have written about the apparent trend in Saudi Arabia of slowly relaxing their draconian anti-female laws. A change in the law forbidding women staying alone in hotel rooms and the formation of the Kingdom’s first women’s charity augured well. However, it appears as if it is just that – an apparent trend – and not an actual one. The Arab News interviews a women who was arrested for having a coffee in a public place – Starbucks, by the way – with a man who was not her husband. She was arrested, put in jail, denied the right to call her husband, and forced to sign a pre-written confession before her husband, who found about her imprisonment vicariously, could pull some strings to get her released.

She was arrested by the Saudi religious police who enforce so-called morality laws in the Kingdom. They arrived – in their USA built GMC suburban, by the way – and hauled her off as well as the Syrian business partner she was having a drink with. He, incidentally, has yet to be released.

Time will tell if despicable instances like this are the last throws of the retrograde and draconian Saudi religious police. One can only hope so. However, their place in society is firmly rooted and intertwined with the very formation of Saudi Arabia itself. From the very birth of the Saudi Kingdom, the Wahabbi religious authorities provided the al Saud’s with the religious legitimacy to create, expand, consolidate and maintain the Kingdom, whilst in return, the al Saud’s provided al Wahhab’s followers the mechanisms of the state with which to propagate their version of Islam, both at home and abroad. Thus, there is going to be no swift extrication of Saudi society from the clutches of the religious lobby who’s interest is historically and practically based in maintaining their grip on Saudi society as a whole.

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=106499&d=5&m=2&y=2008

 

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