Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia; Incitement for Hatred Is Still Ongoing
Saudishia.com - 16 / 5 / 2009 - 1:34 am

Religious freedom status in Saudi Arabia is still obscure. Officials have not contribute in any substantial development to restrain and reduce cases of incitement, abuse and hatred promotion against different Islamic sects other than the official one in Saudi Arabia.

During 2008, hatred and incitement speeches and fatwas (religious verdicts) against followers of other religions and trends had continued issuing due to the absence of official efforts in preventing this common approach.

One of the most prominent incitement calls was in 2008 when twenty-two radical Sunni clerics issued a statement in which they considered Shiites as "the most evil, hostile and deceptive trend in the Islamic nation". Some of the most distinctive signers on this statements were Abdullah bin Jubreen, AbdulRahman AlBarrak and Nasir AlOmar.

As a result of a joint prayer that gathered Sunni and Shiite activists, Sheikh AbdulRahman AlBarrak issued a fatwa in June 2008 in which he considered "calling for rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites is like calling for rapprochement between Christianity and Islam" as an indication to his total rejection to any kind of Sunni-Shiite rapprochement in Saudi Arabia. AlBarrak, in his website, states that "Sunnis and Shiites are contradictive trends, different sects and opposite trends which would never meet".

In another fatwa, AlBarrak, also, warned from dealing with Shiite citizens as they are non-Muslims, whereas Sheikh AbdulRahman AlSuhaim believes that Shiites are hypocrites, they (will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire) An-Nisa verse no. 145., and they are the most dangerous enemies for Islam.

In the beginning of 2008, Sheikh AbdulRahman AlSa'ad had issued a fatwa in which he prohibits selling real estates to the followers of the Shiite sect because this is an assistance to them on showing their corrupted beliefs. He accused Shiites of owning lands properties, and real estates within Sunni communities in Saudi Arabia in order to expand their authority and influence.

Other 2008 reports showed that there are a radical Salafi release that contains family names of Shiites in Saudi Arabia in order to warn Sunnis from them. Another similar research by the extremist Sheikh Abdullah AlOmar was presented to Supreme Ulama Council in 1993, and entitled "The Reality of Shiites in the Country of Monotheism" in which he warned Sunnis from Shiites citizens through presenting their religious, educational and commercial activity.

At the same year, it was revealed that there were a group of radical Salafi teachers at public schools in Shiite-majority Saudi cities aims to convert Shiite students to the Salafi trend. Moreover, in December 2008 Prince Khalid bin Talal bin AbdulAziz Al Saud accused Shiite citizens with disloyalty, dishonesty and deception.

Saudi Shiites activists hold the Saudi authority the responsibility of those extreme views and fatwas that accuse other groups with infidelity. This attitude because of absence of any law that prohibits such acts and fatwas by some Salafi clerics; some of them are former members in the Supreme Ulama Council.

In this regard, incitement against different others whether religiously or intellectually is still ongoing through school curricula, fatwas, speeches, statements, articles, distribution of cassettes, religious books and electronic websites. Therefore, Shiites, Jews and Christians are still in some official educational curricula enemies to Muslims; so, killing them is legitimized, and they are not allowed to perform their religious rituals in Saudi Arabia.

Recommendations:

1. Authorities must set an act that prohibits attacks and incitement for hatred against other religions or different Islamic trends.
2. Authorities must penalize who ever call for attacking followers of other religions and trends through fatwas, speeches and other contributions whether they are printed, audios or videos.
3. Official recognition of all religions and trends must be adopted and followers of those religions and trends must have absolute freedom in practicing their religious rituals and beliefs.
4. School curricula must be edited to include some programs that promotes religious freedom and tolerance.