Thursday, August 04, 2005

Our friends, the Saudis

Christian Freedom International Email Update
August 4, 2005

To: Friends and Supporters of Christian Freedom International

From: Jim Jacobson, President

Subject: "Misperceptions" about Saudi Arabia?

"Do not pass along false reports. Do not cooperate with evil people by telling lies on the witness stand." (Exodus 23:1)

This "call for justice" from the book of Exodus should be nailed to the doors of the many public relations firms in Washington, D.C. and New York that have been hired by Saudi Arabia to improve the image of the "kingdom" to Americans.

For instance, a recent media event in Washington, D.C. introduced Princess Loulwa, the sister of Prince Turki al-Faisal, the new ambassador to the United States; she gave unquestioned, glowing reports about her country.

She even trumpeted huge advances of equality for all Saudi citizens, especially women. Speaking at the Washington-based Middle East Institute she said last week that women in her country "have made many advances."

The princess is attempting to counter post 9/11 sentiments and "negative American stereotypes" about the kingdom.

She "hailed the advances of women" in Saudi Arabia and said, "We are always perceived as downtrodden slaves to men which we are not at all."

In fact, she said Americans have too many "misperceptions" about Saudi Arabia.

Although she said Saudi women "will always be veiled," she predicted that someday women in her country "would be allowed to vote and drive a car."

Of course these "advances" won't happen in the foreseeable future.

While Saudi Arabia spends billions on slick P.R. campaigns and sends out highly trained spokespersons like Princess Loulwa touting the benefits of the kingdom, real life there is brutal, especially for women, Christians, and other religious minorities.

For instance, men and women do almost nothing together in public in Saudi Arabia. Events like watching a simple soccer game are strictly for men. It's a country where culture and religion make women live mostly restricted segregated lives.

In public, there are separate sections where they eat, where they work, and where they pray. There is also segregation inside their own homes, with separate living quarters for men and women.

According to the rules of Saudi society, a woman needs written permission from a man to do almost anything: to get an education, to get a job, and even to buy a plane ticket.

Muslim clerics preach that "women's rights" is a western idea the United States is trying to impose. And they enforce a strict social code that determines everything -- from the kind of clothing women may wear to when and where they may shop at the local market.

Religious police enforce a "modesty code" for women.

The mutawwa'in, the state-financed religious police known as the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, enforce laws relating to religion.

Basically freedom of religion in the kingdom does not exist. It is not recognized or protected under the country's laws, and basic religious freedoms are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam.

Conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy, a crime punishable by death.

Foreign Christian missionary activity is absolutely prohibited. The government strictly prohibits activities such as proselytizing, importing and disseminating religious literature, Bibles, and even offering private religious instruction. These activities are punishable by death.

Saudi courts impose corporal punishment, including amputations of hands and feet for simple robbery and floggings for lesser crimes.

Capital punishment is applied for crimes including armed robbery, drug smuggling, and sorcery. In most cases, the condemned are decapitated in public squares after being blindfolded, handcuffed, and shackled at the ankles.

Freedom of expression and association are nonexistent rights, political parties and independent local media are not permitted, and even peaceful anti-government activities remain virtually unthinkable.

In September 2004, the U.S. Secretary of State designated Saudi Arabia as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Christian Freedom International
Email Alert
August 4, 2005

No comments:

Post a Comment