The Saudi regime has become extremely jittery and, therefore, even more oppressive than before. Omar al-Saeed, a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) was sentenced to 300 lashes and four years in jail for merely demanding a consitutional monarchy in the country. His trial was held in secret and he had no access to a defence lawyer.
December 1, 2013, 16:03 EST
In the archaic kingdom of Saudi Arabia, harsh punishment awaits those that dare to call even for constitutional monarchy.
This is what Omar al-Saeed found today when a court sentenced him to 300 lashes and four years in jail for making just such a call.
Omar al-Saeed is a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). He is the fourth member of the group to be jailed this year. The group has issued statements critical of the ruling family over its human rights record and calling for people's basic rights.
Al-Saeed was not allowed any legal representation at the secret hearing at which he was sentenced, according to a statement by ACPRA.
“It's just another troubling instance of Saudi authorities' absolute refusal to countenance any activism or criticism of Saudi policies or human rights abuses,” said Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.
While the Saudi regime claims that it is governed by the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the noble Messenger (saws), nowhere is it stated in the noble Book that Muslims are forbidden to have their fundamental rights. Similarly, monarchy is forbidden in Islam.
The regime headed by ailing King Abdullah—he is 90—also claims it is a champion of “Sunni Muslim” rights. Since the country’s ideology is Wahhabism, an extreme form of interpretation of Islam based more on tribal traditions than any Islamic principles, the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this ideology.
Based on the claim of its alleged support for “Sunni Muslims,” as in Syria, the Saudi regime, however, backed the military coup against an elected Sunni government in Egypt. Further, it does not tolerate any demands from its own Sunni population, even those subscribing to the Wahhabi ideology simply because they are asking for a little more freedom.
The House of Saud controls all top positions in the country including the ministries of foreign, interior, defence and intelligence. All governorates are also controlled by the family as if there is no talent elsewhere in the desert kingdom.
The harsh sentences meted out to activists demanding basic rights reflect the great apprehension felt by the ruling family. Both King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman are not only very old but also suffering from many ailments. There is intense rivalry among the next generation of Saudi royals and backstabbing is common.
According to recent reports, Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan has been spreading rumors about the “extreme ill-health” of Prince Salman with a view to having him removed from that position.
At the same time, Bandar as well as Defence Minister Salman bin Sultan have secretly met the Zionists to secure their grip on power. The Saudi regime has maintained close links with the Zionists for decades but in the past these were kept largely secret.
Now they have been forced to come out into the open because of America’s recent interim deal with Iran. The Saudis are petrified of being left out in the cold by the Americans and have escalated their sectarian crusade against Islamic Iran that it sees as a rival.
The growing number of voices calling for reform in the kingdom has added to the ruling family’s anxiety. Handing down harsh sentences to such peaceful calls will only exacerbate an already bad situation in the kingdom and hasten the demise of the House of Saud.