Saudis Release Leading Reformers

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By IGA Staff

Newly Crowned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has just issued a royal pardon releasing three leading liberal reformers, one of their lawyers and a religious scholar. Drs. Abdullah Al-Hamed and Matrook Al- Faleh, Poet Ali Al- Domaini, Lawyer Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem and scholar Saeed Al-Zuair are to be released from jail shortly. The three reformers garnered international attention after they received as many as nine years in jail for circulating a petition asking for the creation of a constitutional monarchy.

While this release is long overdue, it is only a first step in what is surely a long road to Saudi democracy. This can be an auspicious start to the reign of the new king if it ushers in a genuine new age of freedom of expression and political liberalization, Fahad Nazer, Fellow at The Institute for Gulf Affairs.

It is customary for new Saudi kings to pardon some prisoners upon ascending the throne .The limited release of some political prisoners is not indicative of any policy change. King Fahd issued more pardons for political prisoner than any other Saudi king, but it never changed his public policy.”  Ali Al-Ahmed, director – the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

The time is ripe for the idea of political prisoners to be just as repugnant to Saudis as it is to most other people around the world. This is the new king’s opportunity to prove what is yet a disputable commitment to far reaching political reforms, by releasing all other political reformers and non-militant religious scholars.

 

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