Kingdom bans demonstrations
Published: Mar 6, 2011 00:13 Updated: Mar 6, 2011 01:07
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it would not allow any demonstrations or sit-in protests in the country that are aimed at undermining the Kingdom’s security and stability.
“Laws and regulations in the Kingdom totally prohibit all kinds of demonstrations, marches and sit-in protests as well as calling for them as they go against the principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said such demonstrations not only breach the Kingdom’s law and order but also encroach on the rights of others.
“They will also lead to spreading chaos and confusion in the country, causing bloodshed, breaching honor, pillaging wealth and destroying public and private properties,” the statement said.
The ministry said it had observed that some people wanted to circumvent the country’s rules and regulations to achieve their illegal objectives. It also referred to a statement issued two years ago banning all kinds of demonstrations.
A security spokesman, meanwhile, said the Saudi government has allowed all legitimate ways for people to express their views and interact with authorities to protect public interests. He said the security forces have been given the authority to adopt all precautionary measures to prevent those who want to undermine the country’s security and apply laws against them.
Sheikh Ali bin Abdul Rahman Al-Hudaifi, the imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, opposed demonstrations in the Kingdom. “There is no place for chaotic demonstrations in this country of monotheism because Shariah is the dominant force in this country,” he said while delivering his Juma sermon on Friday.
“There is a difference between the one who calls for monotheism and the one who calls for other ideologies; there is a difference between the one who works for the welfare of his people and the one who kills his people,” the imam explained. Speaking about anti-government protests in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Al-Hudaifi said: “People revolted against leaders of those countries because they did not apply the teachings of Islam in their dealings with the public. Un-Islamic laws cause corruption rather than reform. It’s Shariah that reforms everything.”
The imam also emphasized the importance of security for the progress of any country.
“Security is essential for people to enjoy peaceful and prosperous lives, prevent bloodshed, protect wealth, promote trade and ensure the protection of rights,” the imam said. He also warned against people who try to open the doors of sedition.
Many Saudis have commended the government’s efforts to enhance the progress and prosperity of its people. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah recently announced a number of welfare programs worth SR110 billion, including a 15 percent pay hike for public employees and a substantial increase in social insurance benefits for the poor. He also ordered the release of prisoners held for petty crimes. Prices of consumer goods in the Kingdom are comparatively lower than neighboring countries.
Young Saudis reject street protests to press their demands
Published: Mar 6, 2011 23:15 Updated: Mar 6, 2011 23:15
JEDDAH: A large number of young Saudis as well as religious clerics have rejected the plan to hold anti-government protests in the Kingdom. Speaking to Arab News, they commended the government’s open-door policy enabling the public to meet with authorities and express their views.
They also emphasized that freedom is guaranteed in the Kingdom, which follows the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. They believed that demonstrations would not bring the desired results and would cause only chaos and destruction.
Saleh Al-Mustadi, 33, who works for a service firm in Jeddah, said he was not happy with developments in many Arab countries where hundreds have been killed in demonstrations. “I hope peace and stability returns to these countries,” he said.
Al-Mustadi believed that demonstrations have done more harm than good.
“In Saudi Arabia, we have many other alternative means to express our views. For example, every week Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah receives members of the public and takes quick measures to solve their problems,” he said. “I don’t agree with the idea of demonstrations, although some Arab countries allow them, because they are more harmful to the public.”
Fahd Al-Sahli, 29, a teacher, also rejected the idea of demonstrations saying it is not a solution. “The Saudi government has been promoting dialogue between officials and the general public as well as between the various groups to resolve problems,” he said, adding that Islam does not allow violence and destruction of properties.
“Demonstrators may demand unreasonable things and the governments may not be convinced. So it is always better to have some sort of dialogue to reach agreeable solutions.”
On Saturday, the Interior Ministry issued a statement underscoring the Kingdom's long-standing prohibitions on public demonstrations, saying demonstrations and calls for demonstrations “go against the principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions.”
Al-Sahli commended the Kingdom’s dialogue experiment initiated by King Abdullah.
“The national dialogue forums set the stage for constructive dialogue between various segments of society, realizing public interests and safeguarding national unity,” he said.
The King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue Center has been organizing dialogue forums on social, cultural, economic, educational and other pressing issues. “This is a unique experiment that cannot be seen in other parts of the Arab world,” he pointed out.
Faris Al-Harbi, 22, who works for a car company, said that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Kingdom within the framework of Islamic teachings.
“Citizens can either approach the court or meet the authorities to solve their problems. Some regional governors meet citizens weekly to look into their problems.”
Khaled Al-Ghamdi, 21, a university student, also emphasized the importance of constructive dialogue between the authorities and citizens. “It’s a better alternative to destructive demonstrations,” he said.
“Poverty, corruption and unemployment are issues all over the world, not just in Arab countries. The Saudi government has taken steps to fight these problems. Following the Jan. 26 floods in Jeddah, the authorities are now questioning 55 government officials and businessmen for causing the deluge.”
He also spoke about the government’s efforts to fight corruption by taking action against corrupt officials. “In Saudi Arabia we have a system called administrative intelligence to monitor corruption in government departments,” Al-Ghamdi said.
King Abdullah recently beefed up the Kingdom’s monitoring agencies by adding 1,200 employees, he added.
Faisal Al-Subaie, 26, who works in the oil sector, pointed out that Saudi Islamic scholars including the late Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz have opposed demonstrations as un-Islamic practice.
Sheikh Muhammad Othaimeen, another prominent scholar who died in 2000, also rejected demonstrations saying it would cause chaos and confusion and harm the public.
Meanwhile, the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars issued a statement on Sunday, forbidding demonstrations and public protests.
“The council affirms that demonstrations are forbidden in this country. The correct way in Shariah of realizing common interest is by consultation, which is what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) established,” said the council, which is chaired by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh.
“Reform and advice should not be via demonstrations and ways that provoke strife and division and this is what the religious scholars of this country in the past and now have forbidden and warned against,” the council said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
Semoga segala yang telah berlaku, sedang berlaku dan akan berlaku itu membawa kebaikan kepada ummah dan penghayatan Islam. Pergolakan yang berlaku di rantau arab akan meninggalkan kesan yang mendalam kepada ummah di seluruh dunia.
Lebih daripada 200 tahun yang lalu, seorang Syaikh, Syaikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab yang bergabung dengan penguasa tempatan dari keluarga as-Saud di Diriyyah, pekan kecil di Najd itu telah memberi kesan yang mendalam kepada ummah di seluruh dunia sehingga ke hari ini.
Hal sedemikian berlaku ketika masyarakat belum terdedah kepada budaya internet, ketika maklumat lambat tersebar, ketika perhubungan antara dua rantau yang berjauhan agak sukar. Maka dapatlah kita bayangkan 'impact' perkembangan yang sedang berlaku sekarang ini kepada ummah di seluruh dunia ketika kita dalam ruang zaman yang serba laju secara relative-nya. Semoga di dalam segala hal pun ,kita termasuk dalam golongan yang disejahterakan Allah.
Tulisan ini mengingatkan saya kepada buku kecil tulisan Ustaz Rasul Dahri yang bertemakan demonstrasi jalanan itu adalah amalan khawarij pada tahun-tahun demostrasi reformasi berlaku di Kuala Lumpur. Begitu juga dengan beberapa siri dalam U-tube, yang mana Ustaz Rasul Dahri mendedahkan 'penyelewengan aqidah' Ikhwanu al-Muslimin. Ustaz Rasul Dahri consistent dalam pegangannya, dia tidak pula anjal kerana mengikut liuk popularity, tidak sebagaimana pragmatic-nya (kalau tidak pun opportunistic) sikap tokoh minda tajdid , MAZA. Saya lebih menghormati perbezaan faham dari seorang yang teguh pada fahamannya, walaupun bertentangan dengan fahaman kita berbanding dengan yang tidak mempunyai tulang belakang yang tegak kerana asyik meluncur gelombang populariti!