The Lowell Sun – Amnesty International report focuses more light on abuses


By Rachel Besonen -The Lowell Sun
Amnesty International recently released a report about the systemic human-rights abuses taking place in Saudi Arabia. The report focused on how the al Saud family condones the arrests of thousands of civilians under the ruse of combating terrorism. Their report draws attention to two crucial facts about the country. First, that the Saudi government is one of the worst violators of human rights. Second, that the Saudi government breeds hundreds of terrorists by its promotion of Wahhabi extremism. For the sake of our national security, President Obama needs to hold the ruling family accountable.

If the al Saud family is known for anything, it is its contempt for human rights. As demonstrated by the Amnesty report, thousands of individuals have been arbitrarily arrested under the suspicion of being terrorists. While some of these individuals may genuinely be guilty of plotting terrorist attacks, that does not justify the al Saud family’s actions. As cited in the report, many of the people being detained have been held in prison without access to legal counsel or family visits, oftentimes for many years. While being held, most prisoners have no knowledge of the reasons for their capture and are usually brutalized. Often, many individuals have been repeatedly arrested, without explanation, shortly after they are released. What the report fails to mention is that many people have died as a result of being tortured.

Many of these alleged terrorists have been arrested simply because they criticized the government. Consider the detainment of Hadi al-Mutif. In the fall of 1993, al-Mutif was arrested for supposedly making an offensive remark. After his arrest, he was sentenced to death by beheading. However, al-Mutif has not been killed but has been sitting in solitary confinement since his arrest. When the television station Al Hurra shifted public attention to his case in February 2007, he was moved to a maximum security prison. The imprisonment of prisoners of conscience is not new, as demonstrated by Amnesty’s report.

Since the al Saud family is a staunch supporter of Wahhabi Islam, extremism has flourished within the country. With Saudi Arabia acting as a safe haven for extremism, many of its citizens have been caught up in its intolerance and have launched terrorist attacks around the world. This is partially due to the fact that for years, the al Saud family has taught its children to loathe all non-believers of Wahhabi Islam, and that violence against them is acceptable. The current edition of Saudi texts, for the 2008-2009 school year, tell children that governments that do not follow the word of God are soldiers of Satan. Children are also taught that it is permissible for themselves, and infants, to be married so long as their parents consent.

The examples of what Saudi children are being taught does not end there. The texts also describe the concept of protected blood. Under this concept, the only people that have protected blood, meaning that they are favored by God, are Wahhabi Muslims or non-Muslims living under their rule. Thus, if a Wahhabi Muslim kills another follower, a sin has been committed. This is not the case if the victim is a non-believer. Part of this doctrine includes the religious calling to destroy all non-believers. Thus, the murder and raping of non-believers is not only accepted, but actively encouraged.

This education is particularly alarming as it is exported around the world. The official texts are used in the Saudi Islamic Academy (ISA) in Virginia, which is a part of the Saudi educational system. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, controversy has surrounded the ISA in regards to its curriculum. The ISA has repeatedly claimed that its texts do not preach violence and intolerance, but that is simply not the case. The Institute for Gulf Affairs has been reporting on the ISA before the attacks and has amassed a vast amount of evidence to the contrary.

Regrettably, President Obama does not appear to be serious about fulfilling his pledge to support human rights. If he was, then he would have made the extremist Saudi schoolbooks a priority in U.S.-Saudi relations and would have pressured the absolute monarchy to end its jihad on human rights.

Rachel Besonen is currently working with the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA) as a research analyst and associate. The IGA is a non-profit and non-governmental think tank that focuses on the Persian Gulf.


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