The fact that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an anachronism has already been made clear by us. Repeated requests for reform have been ignored or crushed in revenge.
The most heinous attack on liberty and democratic awareness – the sentence to imprisonment,fine and an additional travel ban after completing the prison term on a human rights lawyer who argued the case for Raif Badawy – has been condemned by human rights organizations and all other freedom loving individuals. But the regime is not the one to heed.
It seems there will not be an end to repressions and human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia if the present regime continues. Waleed Abul khair is not only a human rights activist, but a specialist lawyer in that field. The fact that he is a defender of victims who had stood against Salafist clergy-sponsored and Shariah based violations of human rights perpetrated by the decadent bureaucracy and ruling dynasty is the sole reason behind the inadmissible and shocking abuses he has been subjected to.
He was born in Jiddah in 1979. He founded the first Saudi Human Rights organization MHRSA registered in Canada in 2012. In 2007, the liberal activists released a petition demanding a constitutional monarchy by means of free elections in place of the present absolute monarchy. They were arrested in February 2007 accusing them of collecting funds for terrorism. Next year he organized a hunger strike for prisoners of conscience. (1)
Saudi monarchy has a dirty history of repressing pluralism and human rights activism. The Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (ACPRA) founded in 2009 was not given permission to function by the Ministry of Interior . Two founders of ACPRA were convicted for breach of allegiance to the monarchy and disobedience, undermining the security, inciting to disturb public order by calling for demonstrations, providing wrong information to foreigners etc. including creation of an unauthorized organization. In March 2013, Abdullah al-Hamid was awarded 10 years’ imprisonment and Muhammad al-Qahtani, 11 years’. They were also put under a travel ban. The court ordered dissolution of the Association, confiscation of its property and closure of its accounts on social networks. Abdul Rahman al-Hamid, Abdullah Hamid’s brother was detained incommunicado for a month and then moved to the prison in Buraydah, qassim province and is being held there without charges (2)
Abul Khair had a role in the creation of several civic initiatives including Women’s driving campaign. In 2011, he was named as one of the top 100 twitter activists with more than 40,000 followers by Forbes Middle east. Since 2010, his international reputation as a genuine representative of Arab human rights activists was viewed with jealousy and irritation by the authorities.
The trial of Fowzan al Harbi, the fourth founder member of ACPRA began on 4th December 2013. On June 25, 2014, the Riyadh criminal court sentenced him to seven years in prison along with a travel ban. ACPRA members Umar al-Sa’ id and Abdul Kareem Al-Khudhr were also sentenced to prison. On 8th April, Abdul Azeez al-Ghamdi was detained. On April 17, the Special Criminal Court sentenced Fadhel Maki al-Manaf to 15 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals plus the travel ban. He has been reported to have suffered torture and other ill treatment in detention. (ibid)
The first trial of Waleed Abul Khair was in 2011 after signing the statement denouncing persecution of reformists. On October 29, 2013, he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by the criminal court. On February 6, 2014, the Court of Appeal in Mekka confirmed the punishment.
The Special Criminal Court in another case has now sentenced Waleed abul Khair to 15 years in prison,a fine of 200,000Riyals and a travel ban for a further period of 15 years subsequent to his completing the prison term.The trial relating to this began on October 6th,2013. He was arrested without explanation on April 15, and was put in solitary confinement in Al-Hair jail. It is alleged that he was exposed to bright light so as to deprive him of sleep. Then transferred to various detention centres, he is now in Briman prison, Jiddah. (ibid)
We request all the humanists, secularists and other supporters of human rights to call upon the authorities of Saudi Arabia to free Waleed Abul Khair immediately. There is no justification for his detention.
“The sentencing of a prominent Saudi Arabian lawyer and human rights defender to 15 years in prison has dealt a fresh blow to peaceful activism and freedom of expression in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.”
He is being punished under the new anti-terrorism law.(6)
“The Specialized Criminal Court is a security and counter-terrorism related court whose rules and procedures remain secret and which activists claim is under the direct control of the Interior Ministry. Ahead of his sentencing Waleed Abu al-Khair stated that he considered the court illegitimate and the judge to be biased and would refuse to defend himself in court. ”
Waleed Abul Khair is a prisoner of conscience. He has been exercising his freedom of expression, association and assembly peacefully. He has every right to do it.
A monarchy which is nothing but an anachronism in 21st century is maintaining a judicial system which is a shame to the entire humanity. It is the responsibility of all lovers of democracy to pressurize all forces concerned to take note of the pathetic condition in to which the top oil exporting country has fallen and to act ethically and responsibly in ‘International Relations’.
We request the international community to bring all possible pressure on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and demand the unconditional release of Waleed Abul Khair and all other human rights activists immediately.
Please sign the Petition To Free Waleed Abul Khair
Please sign the Petition To Free Raif
Please sign the petition to Free Fadhil Makki al-Manasif
The brutality and abhorrent despotism of the king is evidenced by the cruelty shown to his four daughters and divorced wife. You can join The Twitter campaign under the hash tag #FreeThe4.
Please sign the Petition to Free The Four Daughters.
Let There Be Light !
Post Script :
Read this also:
Updated on 05 – 09 – 2014
The court of appeal in Jeddah has upheld Raif Badawi’s sentence. On 07 May 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. He was also slapped with a fine of one million Saudi riyals.Please read the call by Amnesty International dtd. 01 – 09 – 2014 below:
Details of e-petition and twitter campaigns :
Raif Badawy has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison on charges of apostasy. You are requested to join the global community in the campaign to free Raif Badawy.
Twitter hash tag: #FreeRaif
Post Script: By sentencing his lawyer Mr.Waleed Abul Khair, the King and his minions have encroached all limits.
Twitter hash tag : #FreeWaleed
Petition to Free Waleed Abul Khair
Thank You for your help. Long live Secular Democracy!
3. IHEU urges
Mubarak Bala, a 29-year-old Ex-Muslim Nigerian has been
forced to undergo psychiatric treatment against his will by
his father and other family members following his coming
out as an atheist in a Shariah imposed Muslim state of Kano.
This article will give you an idea of what happened.
Continuous updated information is provided here.
An example of Mubarak’s social criticism:
To get information regarding organizational activities:
In order to make this campaign a success, you are requested
to sign the petition below and share it in social media:
Thank you for your co-operation.
Skepticism and confirmation:
Mubarak is now free.Thanking every one for joining the campaign.
Humanist Politics – 2
IV. Elections and Rationalists
1. (a) “Only when the monster called the masses is decomposed into its component men and women, will an atmosphere be created in which democratic practice becomes possible, in which there can be established governments of the people and by the people. In such an atmosphere, it will become possible to practice direct Democracy in smaller social groups, because to make individuals self-reliant, they must be freed from the feeling of being helpless cogs in the wheels of the gigantic machines of modern states, which allow them no other function than to cast a vote once in several years, and give them no idea of how governments function, so that they cannot even effectively help their government, if they wanted to.” (1)
1. (b) “If you deal with men, ultimately you can appeal to their reason and deal with their conscience. But in the mass, men’s reason and conscience are also submerged and suspended. Masses respond more easily to emotional appeals, because men merge into masses on their lowest common denominator. The level of the politicians then adjusts itself to this mentality. Elections do not ensure democracy but put a premium on demagogy.”(2)
2. (a) “To ensure that elections reflect an intelligent public opinion, there has to be an intelligent public opinion first. Then only elections can become an instrument of democracy not sprung on unprepared electorates in a concerted effort to sweep them off their feet. Such an alternative approach to election begins with people in their localities meeting in local or regional conferences for serious discussions, not for public harangues, but for educative and enlightening propagation of these ideas. Through such informal regular meetings an intelligent public opinion is created. Having come to understand political questions and economic problems for themselves, the people will see that they need not vote for this or that party, leaving all judgment to them and relying on their promises, but that they can judge independently and elect candidates of their own choice from among themselves. These will be independent candidates; that is to say, they will not depend for their election on any political party, and therefore they can depend on their own conscience and be responsible to the people directly. That will do away with the evils of party politics and the scramble for power and its demagogy and corruption.” (3)
2. (b) “But once the precondition is created, that every citizen and voter will have a minimum degree of intelligent understanding and the ability to think and judge for himself, then this helplessness and hopelessness of the individuals will disappear; they can create local democracies of their own. The voters need no longer remain scattered like isolated atoms. They can organize themselves on a local scale into People’s Committees, and function as local republics, in which direct democracy is possible. Then at the time of elections, these people will no longer have to vote for anybody coming from outside; they will not only discuss in their committees the merits of candidates presented to them for taking or leaving, but nominate their own candidates from among themselves. To create this condition is the most important political activity.” (4)
3. (a) “For this work, we need not wait for an election. We select one constituency. 20 or 25 people there will come to feel the necessity of devising new forms of political practice, because they are dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. They resolve to make an experiment. They begin by creating the precondition for Democracy by spreading education among the people. At a later stage, it should be possible to call a number of local conferences in a constituency and elect delegates from them to a conference of the entire constituency. And at the election time, when all parties come and offer their candidates, the people’s committee may decide to vote for none of those party candidates, but elect one from among themselves as their candidate, and the people will vote for him. The person who will be thus elected and go to the Parliament, will not be responsible to any existing political party machinery. He will be and remain responsible to his local Democracy, of which he himself is a part; he will be directly responsible to the people who sent him to the Parliament; he will not have to act on the behests and discipline of any extraneous authority, and he will have to report to and inform his fellow- citizens in his constituency about all his actions and the problems of the wider community, and take his mandate from them alone in all matters and act accordingly to his best ability and conscience.” (5)
3. (b) “This process may take a long time. That is the common objection against it. But once we make the choice and begin moving in the new direction, it is not really such a long way as it appears to be. The precondition is to discard the traditional notion of human nature, and to know that it is neither evil nor divine, but that man is essentially rational; that, given the opportunity, every human being is capable of thinking for himself, judging right and wrong, making judgments and acting accordingly. Unless by his own nature, as a biological being, man was capable of thinking rationally and behaving morally, it would be a vain dream to visualize a free, just and harmonious social order. For the time being, it is true that the common people are illiterate; they may not be able to govern country. But at the same time, is it not a fact, that left to themselves, even the most ignorant peasants can manage their affairs better than our present government? The distrust for the ability of the common people to think for themselves and take care of themselves is only a pretext for seizing power in their name and abusing that power to suppress their liberty.” (6)
4. (a) “In the next elections we may not yet get rid of the bad effects of party politics. But we may already help in the appearance of a considerable number of independent candidates who in the assemblies will not be subjected to the whip of the parties, whether in power or in opposition, but who can raise the voice of the people inside the parliaments.”(7)
4. (b) “ Thus, while the big parties may fight for power among themselves, there will be a few people to express the will of the people without reservations and extraneous contingent considerations of fear or favor. Their voice, in its turn, will quicken the consciousness of the people outside who follow the proceedings in the assemblies. And what is more, after the elections, independent candidates, who depend directly on the people of their locality for their election, cannot forget their constituencies but must keep constantly in touch with them for their mandate and support. Also those Humanists who have stimulated this political awakening in the constituency will not leave the voters to relapse in to apathy after elections, but constantly remind them of their rights and responsibilities. They worked in their constituency not to be elected and then go away to the centres of power, but they remain there with the sole function of educating the people and helping them establish a democratic local republic. In these local republics, it is possible to have direct democracy, and their functions can be expanded as the citizens grow increasingly discriminating and conscious. In them, power and sovereignty will remain in the hands of the people themselves, and in this way the precondition for a government of the people and by the people will be created. Because ultimately the nature of the basic units will determine the structure of the whole State built upon them. A democratic State in a large country is possible only on the basis of such small organized local democracies which can remove the sense of helplessness of the individual citizens, and through which alone individual voters can exercise control over the State by means of an intelligent active public opinion. To promote this is the most effective practice of New Humanism in the political field.” (8)
5. (a) “Even if elections are by universal suffrage, and the executive is also elected, democracy will still remain a formality. Delegation of power, even for a limited period, stultifies democracy. Government for the people can never be fully a Government of the people and by the people, and the people can have a hand in the Government of the country only when the pyramidal structure of the State will be raised on a foundation of organized local democracy. The primary function of the latter will be to make individual citizens fully conscious of their sovereign right and enable them to exercise the right intelligently. The broad basis of the democratic state, coinciding with the entire society, will be composed of a network of political schools, so to say. The right of recall and referendum will enable organized local democracy to wield a direct and effective control of the entire state machinery. They alone will have the right to nominate candidates for election. Democracy will be placed above parties representing collective egos. Individual men will have the chance of being recognized. Party loyalty and party patronage or other forms of nepotism will no longer eclipse intellectual independence, moral integrity and detached wisdom.” (9)
5. (b) “Such an atmosphere will foster intellectual independence dedicated to the cause of making human values triumph. That moral excellence alone can hold a community together without sacrificing the individual on the altar of the collective ego, be it the nation or the class. People possessed of that great virtue will command the respect of an intelligent public, and be recognized as the leaders of society automatically, so to say. Demagogy will be placed under a heavy discount. Mechanical counting of heads will cease to be the criterion of democracy. Democratic practice will not be reduced to periodical elections.” (10)
5. (c) “It will be some time before reoriented democracy can be the master of the situation. In the transition period, the Constitution should provide for creative genius, intellectual detachment and moral integrity occupying a high place in the state, so as to advise, guide and influence the operation of executive power. In the transition period, democracy must be elective as well as selective. Until the intellectual and moral level of the entire community is raised considerably, election alone cannot possibly bring its best elements to the forefront, and unless the available intellectual detachment and moral integrity are brought to bear on the situation, democratic regimes cannot serve the purpose of promoting freedom.” (11)
6. (a) “At election times, all parties go to the people and make promises; they all know that not half of their promises can be fulfilled; but they rely on the fact that the voters cannot understand, and therefore, can be duped. Can that state of affairs not be changed? It can be. To change this state of affairs is the first necessity, the biggest task for anybody who wishes to participate in politics – not for selfish ends. One need not go to the people only to catch their votes. To help them cast their votes intelligently would be an immensely more important work. The electorate should be asked to examine the programmes of all the parties, to see if the promises can be fulfilled or, if fulfilled will really improve matters. But this new political practice presupposes a radical change in the idea of human nature. It is an appeal to reason, which presupposes the belief that man is a rational being. Political practice is guided by the notion that the ordinary man cannot think for himself; therefore he must be persuaded to follow parties and politicians. Since this unnatural relation between the people, the parties and politicians constitutes the foundation of what is called party politics, the latter prevents the people even to think for themselves. Politics is not only a scramble for power, but competition in all manner of questionable practices. (12)
6. (b) “The position may appear to be a vicious circle. But there is a way out, which party politicians would not take, because that would mean the end of their days. Appeal to reason is the way out. And modern science indicates the way. Science teaches that human nature is not to believe, but to enquire, that human nature is rational. It is true that the rational nature of man has been buried very deep. But being the essence of human nature, it can be recovered. Let some people have the conviction and the courage to act accordingly. Let them raise political practice on the level of reason and intelligence. I have no doubt the appeal to reason will find a response. The new politics will bear fruit sooner than one dares imagine; only, the measure of success will not be power, but gradual disappearance of that evil. Even a few people can lay down a solid foundation of democracy and freedom, if they forgo the quest for power, do not participate in the scramble; do not ask for the vote of the people to rule in their name; but, on the contrary, remind the voters of their human dignity, capacity to think and to act creatively.” (13)
6. (c) “Thus the electorate will gradually become critical and discriminating; the time will come when the voters of a locality will tell the candidates of all parties to leave them alone; amongst themselves they will find men in whom they can have confidence and who will remain responsible to them between two elections. Once that happens, the end of the party system will begin, and with the parties, the main cause for concentration of power will disappear. In the process, we shall already have laid down the foundation of a decentralized State of local republics, which will combine all functions of the State as they affect the local life. National culture, national economy and national political institutions will be cast on the pattern of the functions of these local republics; power will remain with them, to be wielded directly by the individual members of small communities. Being thus reared upon a broad foundation of direct democracies, the State will be really democratic. Usurpation of power will be out of the question. Thus, a pluralistic modern society can be built up at the same time while doing away with centralization of power, political and economic.” (14)
(1) P 59 : Politics Power and Parties, M.N. Roy; 1981, Ajanta Publications(India), Jawahar Nagar, Delhi – 110007.
(2) P 175 : ibid.
(3) P 175: ibid.
(4) Pp 59, 60: ibid.
(5) P 60: ibid.
(6) P 185, ibid.
(7) Pp 175,176: ibid.
(8) P 176, ibid.
(9) P 167, New Orientation, M.N. Roy; 1982, Ajanta Publications(India), Jawahar Nagar, Delhi – 110007.
(11) Pp 167, 168: ibid.
(12) Pp 185, Politics Power and Parties, M.N. Roy; 1981, Ajanta Publications(India), Jawahar Nagar, Delhi – 110007.
(13) P 186, ibid.
(14) P 187, ibid.
It is high time for the Global community to take up the task of persuading rulers to respect freedom of conscience of individuals wherever fanatical masses and decadent judicial systems compel even the magnanimous and sophisticated heads of states to bow before medieval obscurantism. The following is the link to petition the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting them to intervene in the case of Raif Badawi. Our last post carries detailed background information regarding what went on in the case of Raif Badawi’s and his other liberal Saudi friends’ efforts to bring reforms and democratic rights in the Saudi Kingdom. You are requested to sign the petition. Please spread the word so that all persons interested in freedom of expression and conscience may know about this campaign. Do it with all your might because you will be saving many many precious lives thereby.
The decadent judicial system in Saudi Arabia has once again come under criticism. Raef Badawi, an Arabian blogger has been recommended to be tried before a high court on charge of apostasy. If proved guilty by the obsolete judicial system, such accused persons are liable to be executed. Blasphemy carries death penalty under their interpretation of Sharia law.
Raaif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian liberal is co-founder of a website, ‘Free Saudi Liberals’. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for all sorts of Human Rights abuses. Opposition leaders, enthusiasts for reform and human rights activists face trials under fake charges. There are reports that more than 70% of the people can be considered as dissenters; but charges of blasphemy and apostasy which attract death penalty keep people tongue-tied from expressing their views in public. Mohamed Al-Saif observes that the ‘liberal’ movement has emerged during the last two decades. He says,
“So what we are really witnessing here is a growing Saudi social and civil movement seeking to modernize society and promote civic values. The fact is that Saudi liberals are only a small faction of this movement.”
According to the above report dated 10- 5- 2012, the group of young Saudi activists decided to celebrate Saudi Liberal Day on 7th May every year. They wanted to work as a modernizing agency in the Saudi society. “Saudi activist Souad Al-Shammary, presents herself as the secretary general of the Saudi Liberal Network.”
All such attempts get thwarted under the repressive regime. See for example, the following links:
We are told that ‘ Tuwaa’ and ‘Dar al-Nadwa’ were shut down by the government. The reform movement had kept on sending the King its proposals in the form of petitions. King Abdulla allowed some persons to meet him. Some of them were arrested on ‘contested and fabricated’ accusations. The ‘mabahith’(secret Police) arbitrarily arrest former judge, advocates, medical doctors etc. who are detained in unknown locations on dubious charges without any regard to rule of law- even Saudi Code of Criminal Procedure. The kingdom has always been afraid of civil participation.
“ On April 12, 2006, Musa al-Qarni, another of those arrested this month, was among four men who petitioned King Abdullah for permission to open an Islamic Civil Society organization with the aim of discussing “freedom, justice, equality, citizenship, pluralism, [proper] advice, and the role of women.” Neither the king’s office nor any other government agency ever replied.”
Critics of government are not allowed to leave the country. Professors lose positions in University. Rights activists and journalists get instructions not to write or publish.
The attack on cultural and creative activities is equally deplorable. Turki al-Hamad (58) is a novelist. Perhaps he is much more outspoken. Angelo Young in an article on 25-12-2012 says,
“Novelist Turki al-Hamad, 58, one of Saudi Arabia’s more unapologetic and outspoken liberal voices, is now in custody for a series of posts he published on his Twitter last weekend comparing fundamentalist Islamist ideology and its strict social controls to Nazism and suggesting that political Islamists like those allied with Saudi Arabia’s royal family have taken their adulation of Prophet Muhammad too far.”
The Time article, ‘Triumphant Trilogy’ on 01-09-2005 by Malu Halasa sheds light on the approach of the government on publication of his novels: Adama(1998), Shumaisi and Karadib(2000). In 1999, Crown Prince Abdullah had offered him body guards for protection. The religious clerics went on with their fatwas and death threats. Now he is in custody for his tweets and the crown prince who protected him earlier is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Royal Highness King Abdullah Ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz al-Saud.
Raaif Badawi was arrested in June 2012 for insulting Islam and disobedience. Sebastian Usher , Arab affairs editor of BBC News says that though the court had the power to sentence him to death if found guilty, ‘ it refused to charge him, referring his case back to a lower court’.
Ameera Al Hussaini of Global Voices reported that his lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair said that the apostasy case against him had been dismissed and that it was not proven to the judges that the accused had insulted God or the Prophet.
Ahmed Al Omran of Riyad Bureau quotes Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North African program:
“Raif Badawi’s trial for ‘apostasy’ is a clear case of intimidation against him and others who seek to engage in open debates.”
Hail Arabian Renaissance!