One assumes Saudi authorities will not arrange a visit

Michael De Dora spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, on Saudi Arabia and the Istanbul Process.

The rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression remain nearly non-existent in Saudi Arabia. On January 9, Raif Badawi, the creator of an online forum devoted to discussion on religion and politics, received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. He now reportedly faces retrial for apostasy, for which the penalty is death. On January 12, his lawyer, human rights advocate Waleed abu al-Khair, had his own prison sentence extended to 15 years. Meanwhile, women’s rights activist Samar Badawi — wife to Waleed, sister to Raif — has been banned from traveling, and restricted from visiting jailed family members.

More recently, on February 24, a young man was sentenced to death for renouncing his faith. And just last week, on March 11, Mohammed al-Bajadi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for human rights activism.

And these are only a few examples from the past 10 weeks. Saudi Arabia has a lengthy record of punishing any individual or community that differs from the government’s narrow version of authoritarian Islam.

See the original for references.

This is the state which, the OIC tells us,  is governed by and centered on the values of justice, compassion, equality, and tolerance. Insulting, isn’t it. “Listen to us while we tell you a brazen lie.”

And yet, in the face of these human rights violations, last week we learned that Saudi Arabia will host, in
Jeddah, the next meeting in the Istanbul Process, which focuses on implementation of Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. This means that while world leaders meet to discuss combating religious intolerance, Raif Badawi and countless other dissidents will sit just blocks away, languishing in Jeddah’s Briman Prison. One assumes Saudi authorities will not arrange for diplomats and NGOs to pay these political prisoners a visit.

In fact, in a stunning example of hypocrisy, Saudi Arabia — like most OIC states — has not even come close to implementing 16/18.6 It is almost certain they will attempt to use this event to legitimize their position.

It’s just staggering, isn’t it? Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most religiously intolerant nation on earth, hosting a meeting to discuss combating religious intolerance, with Raif Badawi in prison a few blocks away.


  1. Daniel Schealler says

    When we say ‘religious intolerance’, we mean the kind of thing where religious people are themselves intolerant of other people on religious grounds – be those others of the same religion, a different religion, or of no religion whatsoever.

    However, in Saudi Arabia’s Orwellian topsy-turvy mindscape, ‘religious intolerance’ means intolerance of religion.

    So to them, Raif is the intolerant one because he (allegedly) insulted Islam.

    The mad thing is that they don’t see a contradiction there, because they really do think that flogging a man to the brink of death is a fitting reaction to (allegedly) insulting Islam, because insulting Islam is religiously intolerant.

    I can get my head into that perspective to see things their way. But it makes me feel like I need a lobotomy afterwards. It’s a really sick and twisted way to view things.

    Religion poisons everything.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    One assumes Saudi authorities will not arrange a visit

    This one assumes none of the assembled “world leaders” will ask.

  3. =8)-DX says

    Yeah, Daniel is exactly right. To them religious tolerance means “religious people get to do what they want”. Their concern is “how are muslims being treated around the world”.

  4. kevinalexander says

    It makes perfect sense. There is, after all, only one religion so if you don’t like everything that it’s adherents do then you are religiously intolerant.

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