President Obama is due in Riyadh today in what is being portrayed as an effort to patch up US-Saudi relations. Hopefully, one item not on the agenda will be further cooperation in combating terrorism.
Last month a new anti-terrorism law came into force which basically defines terrorism as any activity that the Saudi authorities don't approve of.
Top of the list of new "terrorist" crimes in the kingdom is "calling for atheist thought in any form".
This might seem utterly bizarre but 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.
The kingdom's Basic Law (the Saudi equivalent of a constitution) is full of things that non-believers would find objectionable:
Article 1: 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 …
Article 6: Citizens are to pay allegiance to the King in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and the tradition of the Prophet, in submission and obedience …
Article 7: Government in Saudi Arabia derives power from the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s tradition.
Article 8: Government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on the premise of justice, consultation, and equality in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah.
Article 9: The family is the kernel of Saudi society, and its members shall be brought up on the basis of the Islamic faith …
Article 11: Saudi society will be based on the principle of adherence to God’s command …
Article 13: Education will aim at instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation …
Article 23: The state protects Islam; it implements its Shari’ah; it orders people to do right and shun evil; it fulfils the duty regarding God’s call.
In 2012, a poll by WIN/Gallup International found that almost a quarter of people interviewed in Saudi Arabia described themselves as "not religious" and of those 5% declared themselves to be convinced atheists. Extrapolating that figure on a national scale suggests there are about 1.4 million atheist terrorists living in Saudi Arabia.
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Friday, 28 March 2014