Saudi Arabia And Religious Repression

No Particular Concern (washingtonpost.com)
I don’t care if Mecca and Medina are located in Saudi Arabia, they can be tolerant of other religions and if they are not they should be placed on the State Department’s list of religiously repressive states.

This has been going on for years and it’s clearly to avoid offending delicate Saudi sensibilities. Never mind that it’s the truth. Screw that. List them. It’s not like we launch attacks on the basis of that list. Tell it like it is.

THE LAW IS CLEAR: The president “shall designate each country” that “has engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom” as “a country of particular concern for religious freedom.” By any reasonable standard, Saudi Arabia should have pride of place among the government’s designees. The discussion of religious freedom in that country in the State Department’s human rights report, after all, begins by stating that “freedom of religion does not exist.” Yet, somehow, when the State Department this month issued its list of “countries of particular concern” — a list that included China, Iran, Iraq, Burma, North Korea and Sudan — the kingdom was left off, as it had been in previous years.

It wasn’t the only notable omission. Uzbekistan systematically represses Muslims who don’t toe the government’s line with arrests and detentions, beatings and killings. Yet it was not listed either.

But leaving Saudi Arabia off the list is a particular affront to fact and logic. In the desert kingdom, as the human rights report details, no religion other than Islam may be practiced in public; churches and synagogues are illegal. Non-Muslim worshipers, in fact, can be lashed, and proselytizing for any non-Muslim faith is illegal. Muslims who convert to other religions can be executed. And even those who advance Muslim teachings not sanctioned by the government are imprisoned. Shiite Muslims are discriminated against, and their clerics have been detained for long periods; their testimony can be excluded in court. People are arrested, even put to death, for practicing “magic.” What does it mean to have a list of egregious violators of religious liberty and not include Saudi Arabia?

And let’s not forget that this is the state that let girls burn to death in a school rather than exit without a burqa. If they don’t belong on the list, who does?

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