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This is Saudi Arabia… An awful recurring scene

This is Saudi Arabia… An awful recurring scene

IHEU representative Kacem El Ghazzali

Kacem El GhazzaliJust as I woke up this morning, I took my tablet from under the pillow, and started browsing through news pages. I found a video on youtube titled “On the Eid day, such a thing happens to a visitor who sat politely contemplating the sea, thinking of his family and his expatriation”. The victim was a dark-skinned man, one of the workers who came to Saudi Arabia, sitting calmly on a low concrete wall surrounding the beach. A Saudi young man and a friend of his approach him, and push the man who falls in the water, near docking boats. The Saudi youth laugh aloud, and the recording ends.

At first, I thought that what I had just seen was no more than an exception, which could happen anywhere in the world, but before I left youtube, the website proposed other videos to me, with even more horrible titles: “Saudi beating a Pakistani”, “Saudi punishing an Indian”… the list was long, and my sadness crept up along, with every one of these scenes of violence, humiliation, and mistreatment of foreigners in Saudi Arabia. An obvious and logical question came to my mind:

How did it come to this? If these are sick people and criminals, and we cannot generalize their behavior to the whole population, may the reader then allow me to ask a few concentrated and clear questions, which can have no more than one answer.

Where is the law? Where’s the police? Where’s conscience? Where’s humanity? How did we come to this? Why aren’t these racist criminals being punished? Why did Saudi authorities arrest Raef Badawi for a few articles published on a website, and Hamza Kashgari for tweeting a few lines depicting an imaginary conversation with the prophet Muhammad? And why were Wajiha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyoni led to the mazes of courts and legal prosecution, just because they defended women’s rights and equality of genders in the kingdom?
Yes. Why did they arrest those, while leaving racist offenders enjoy their freedom, and even boast with their racist and hateful deeds on the Internet, without any prosecution or even a mere verbal condemnation?

I’m afraid to say the truth… Truth is sometimes too shocking. The way Saudi authorities deal with frequent violations of the rights of foreign workers, and racism and mistreatment against foreign residents, is known to everyone within the kingdom and abroad. Reports by International Human Rights organizations do not miss any opportunity to condemn the violations of immigrants’ and foreign workers’ rights. The last report by the UN warned Saudi Arabia about human right infringements against the same group.

The problem is that the authorities take no deterring measures against offenders, and provide no guarantees of protection for immigrants; and that’s a catastrophe, because then we face a state that normalizes racist behavior, and even more, provides the adequate social environment for such behavior to become instilled in society and education, and to becomecommon in the public sphere. A state that does not prosecute racists, and does not consider racism a crime, to say things straightforward and without any word games, is a racist state.

And that’s what Saudi Arabia is… A country that spends billions of oil money to build mosques all around the world, to print Korans, to sponsor fundamentalist groups and provide shelter and protection for them, and to export terrorism to the rest of the world.
A country that new Western converts consider as a second home, where intellectuals are arrested, decapitated, or imprisoned for opposing the political movement of Wahhabism. It’s also a country where women are not allowed to drive.

A country still proud of the culture of the dark ages of History. Welcome to Saudi Arabia, the official sponsor of public executions, while being at the same time the sponsor and founder of the International Center for Cultural and Religious Dialogue, founded by King Abdullah in Vienna, capital city of Austria. Long live schizophrenia, and long live dialogue and peace a la Wahhabism.

And here’s the faithless West… Where anyone can take the phone receiver to call the police to report an act of discrimination, offense, or behavior with suspected racist motive. This is the West, which respects everyone’s rights, and does not recognize any law favoring a particular group. All is equal in duties and rights, residents, newcomers, and tourists alike. And those extremist racist groups, when one of their members is responsible for a similar act to what happens in the kingdom, it stirs much anger from the public and many political discussions in the media; and the question of foreigners’ and minorities’ rights is reassessed with much caution and interest. Whereas racist offenders are presented to justice, get the punishment they deserve, and do not publish a video like “Saudi striking an Indian in the head”. 

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