Date: April 29, 2014
The very first sign of this I was pointed towards was published on April first, of 2014…So, in the back of my mind, I was thinking this might be an April Fools Day joke…
…So, I put this on the back burner, to wait and see what else would surface.
…At the end of the month, I decided to survey findings from a search engine…Apparently, this ghastly absurdity is no joke.
“Atheists, peaceful protesters and those who go to fight abroad have all been brought under the auspices of new “anti-terror” laws”
“Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.”
“Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said: “Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism.
“These regulations dash any hope that King Abdullah intends to open a space for peaceful dissent or independent groups,” Mr Stork said.”
“A rash of new laws issued in Saudi Arabia aim to blot out all political dissent — and in one case defines atheists as terrorists. The series of laws began in January of 2014. At the end of last month, Human Rights Watch issued a report explaining that “a series of related royal decrees create a legal framework that appears to criminalize virtually all dissident thought or expression as terrorism.”
“Saudi Arabia has officially identified atheists as terrorists in sweeping new laws that threaten up to 20 years in prison for almost any criticism of the government or Islam.
The regulations place secular citizens who commit thought crimes in the same category as violent terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch and Saudi Hezbollah.
Under the new decree by King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia will jail for up to 20 years anyone who fights in conflicts abroad – an apparent move to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria.
But the law also applies to any Saudi citizen or a foreigner residing in the kingdom that ‘calls for atheist thought in any form or calls into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.’
The laws have been denounced by human rights groups for making no distinction between religious expression and violent extremism.”
““Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at the HRW.”
“Those who swear allegiance to any party, organisation, current of thought, group or individual inside or outside the kingdom are also included in the provisions. The Muslim Brotherhood and various Al Qaeda factions are also among those on the list.”
“The legislation will address those who return with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
Participation via forms of audio, written, visual media, social media, websites are all included in the definition.
Blogging for Al-Bab, Brian Whitaker writes that while the new laws might seem bizarre, “in Saudi terms it does have a certain logic. Since the entire system of government is based on Wahhabi interpretations of Islam, non-believers are assumed to be enemies of the Saudi state.”
“While the law cites violence as an essential element only in reference to attacks carried out against Saudis outside the kingdom or aboard Saudi transportation carriers, crucially it states that inside its borders, “terrorism” can be non-violent.
It can consist of “any act” intended to, among other things, to “insult the reputation of the state”, “harm public order”, or shake the security of society” – none of which the law clearly defines.”
“The new regulations come amid a campaign to silence independent activists and peaceful dissidents through intimidation, investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment. On March 9, the prominent human rights activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani completed their first year in prison, serving 11 and 10-year sentences, respectively, for criticizing the government’s human rights abuses and for membership in an unlicensed political and civil rights organization.
Two other human rights activists, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Mikhlif al-Shammari, recently lost appeals and will probably begin their three-month and five-year respective sentences soon for criticizing Saudi authorities.
On January 31, Saudi authorities promulgated the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing (the “terrorism law”). The law has serious flaws, including vague and overly broad provisions that allow authorities to criminalize free expression, and the creation of excessive police powers without judicial oversight. The law cites violence as an essential element only in reference to attacks carried out against Saudis outside the kingdom or onboard Saudi transportation carriers. Inside the kingdom, “terrorism” can be non-violent – consisting of “any act” intended to, among other things, “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “shake the security of society,” which the law fails to clearly define.”
• Article 1: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”
• Article 2: “Anyone who throws away their loyalty to the country’s rulers, or who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom].”
• Article 4: “Anyone who aids [“terrorist”] organizations, groups, currents [of thought], associations, or parties, or demonstrates affiliation with them, or sympathy with them, or promotes them, or holds meetings under their umbrella, either inside or outside the kingdom; this includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form, or using slogans of these groups and currents [of thought], or any symbols which point to support or sympathy with them.”
• Article 6: “Contact or correspondence with any groups, currents [of thought], or individuals hostile to the kingdom.”
• Article 8: “Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion, or calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form, or anyone who harms the unity or stability of the kingdom by any means.”
• Article 9: “Attending conferences, seminars, or meetings inside or outside [the kingdom] targeting the security of society, or sowing discord in society.”
• Article 11: “Inciting or making countries, committees, or international organizations antagonistic to the kingdom.”
“Al-Qahtani and al-Hamid’s convictions included charges such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler,” “slandering the religiosity and integrity of the Supreme Council of Religious Scholars,” “sowing discord,” and “attempting to shake the internal security of the country by calling for demonstrations.” The new terrorism regulations classify several of these charges as acts of terrorism.
Other members of their organization, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), are serving sentences for convictions on similar charges, including Mohammed al-Bajadi, Omar al-Saeed, and Abd al-Kareem al-Khodr. A jailed member, Fowzan al-Harbi, is on trial before the Riyadh Criminal Court on charges that include “participating in calling for and inciting breaking allegiance with the ruler,” “explicit libel of the integrity and religiosity of the Supreme Council of Religious Scholars,” “participating in setting up an unlicensed organization” – namely, ACPRA – “publishing details of his investigation,” and “describing the ruling Saudi regime – unjustly – as a police state.”
“On March 10, the SPA reported the conviction of another man, with a 10-year prison sentence and a 100,000 riyal fine ($26,600), for “engaging in following, saving, and resending inciting tweets on the social networking site (Twitter) against the rulers, religious scholars, and government agencies and his connection to people who call themselves reformists…”
Another human rights activist, Fadhil al-Manasif, who played a leading role in documenting abuses against demonstrators in the Eastern Province in 2011, is on trial for “sowing discord,” “inciting public opinion against the state,” and “communicating with foreign news agencies to exaggerate news and harm the reputation of the kingdom.”
And Riyadh-based human rights activists, Mohammed al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, who came under investigation in April 2013 for co-founding a new human rights organization – The Union for Human Rights – face a new investigation based on their human rights activities.”
“While protecting public order and national security are recognized in international human rights law as legitimate purposes for limiting certain rights under narrow and clearly-defined circumstances, vague and overly broad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights. Provisions of Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism regulations that deny any ability to exercise basic rights of peaceful assembly, association, and expression greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions, Human Rights Watch said.
Commenting on article 6 of the regulation, one activist told Human Rights Watch on March 12: “Just talking to you now is considered terrorism – I could be prosecuted as a terrorist for this conversation.”
Apparently…we are witnessing a dictatorship in it’s death throws…Because this is an act of clear desperation.
If your regime’s standing is so fragile that it cannot stand up to any criticism…it is time to step aside, and admit that you are not fit to lead a nation.
Given the Saudi families penchant for extreme retaliation, against anybody under it’s control who does not kiss it’s behind and remain completely obedient…It is insane for anyone from that family, or from anywhere…to be pointing a finger at others [especially, entirely innocent others], and calling them “terrorists”.
The Saudi family’s pattern of behavior has far more legitimate claim, to being recognized as terrorism…than the actions of atheists, who speak out against said behaviors…who offer a legitimate resistance, to those human rights abuses.
Calling atheists “terrorists”, is an act of cowardice…it establishes that King Abdullah is out of touch with reality…drunk and crazed on his own power…desperate to keep hold, of power and wealth which never rightly belonged to him or his family, in the first place.
This is the same old, tired story, of the so called elite class against the rest of mankind…Some other man, always fancies themselves above the rest of us…with unquestionable authority and self righteous entitlement.
…It will be interesting to watch the Saudi family fall…though disturbing to contemplate, what might take their place.
…I have one more thing to say…It is a personal message.