Western countries are beacons of morality, says Saudi writer
Saudi writer Abdullah Alalweet, above, is a very brave man.
Speaking on Rotana Khalijiyya TV in a December 4 interview, he told viewers that:
The best way to attain moral values through rationality and humanity is to find a model to follow, and there is no better model than that of the West.
Liberalism is the freedom that you give yourself in order to think, and the freedom that you give others so that they can practice their fate. Attributing other meanings [to liberalism] is ridiculous and childish.
Asked “what other meanings?” by the interviewer, Alalweet said:
The prevalence of sex , for example, or things that have to do with women and sex. This is not the true meaning [of liberalism]. The philosophers of the Enlightenment, who demanded freedom and liberalism, were not thinking about sex or about the freedom of women.
Freedom of women, and of human beings, in general, came later. They did not speak about what women should or should not wear. Anyone who judges the West by what women there wear or by their sexual conduct is, to be frank, an idiot … The West is not a brothel. The West represents a set of moral values and rules of conduct that constitute its culture and individuals.
This will not go down well with the Saudi authorities who, according to the Independent, are embarking on a programme to “inoculate” children against Westernisation, atheism, liberalism and secularism.
These have been listed as threats to “ideological security”, over and above the danger from extremist groups including Islamic State and al-Qaeda and sectarianism.
The Education Ministry’s plans were announced in the Makkah newspaper, and sparked a storm of debate and an Arabic hashtag translated as “Liberalism is a dangerous group” on Twitter.
It follows another government project announced in March 2015 to “protect schoolboys and schoolgirls from deviant behaviour” by enforcing religious and moral values.
Saudi critics labelled the latest initiative “danger to security” and a “disaster” for religious freedom and intellectual debate in Saudi Arabia.
Nadine al-Budair asked on Twitter:
Have you ever heard of a liberal who committed murder? Or of a secularist who blew himself up?
Some newspaper columnists accused the government of seeking to prevent free thought and prioritising a witch-hunt against “liberals” over the real terror threat from Isis and al-Qaeda.
Saudi Arabia’s constitution enshrines Sunni Islam as the foundation for its governance and law, opening with the clause:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; God’s Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, God’s prayers and peace be upon him, are its constitution.
It states that Saudis must be brought up on the basis of Islamic faith and that the state will accordingly strive to maintain the country’s Arab and Islamic values and “protect Islam”.
The constitution stipulates that education will “aim at instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation” and mold children to be “useful” in society.
Human rights organisations have long raised alarm over Saudi Arabia’s repression of liberal thought with prosecutions and arrests, including the imprisonment and lashing of secular blogger Raif Badawi.
Human Rights Watch’s 2016 world report said the state’s adherence to the fundamentalist Wahhabist branch of Sunni Islam generates wide-ranging constraints on freedom of religion.
It does not tolerate public worship by non-Muslims and systematically discriminates against Islamic religious minorities, including Shias and Ismailis
“Immorality” laws are additionally used to crack down on pro-LGBT, feminist and reformist writing and social media posts, while “blasphemy” is a capital offence.