Kill ’em Infidels!! Saudi Arab’s power struggle

4 07 2009

I routinely follow blogs on Saudi Arab. Some are personal, some deal with specific media and some a general voice on the socio-political activites of the country. But a common undercurrent in all of these varied, independant (mostly female) report(er)s is the existance, promulgation and active enforcement of the silliness, whackiness, stupidity and a general lack of common common sense in making laws and applying them. Being interested in the country (and planning a Hajj trip this year, InshaAllah) makes for sure-fire fodder for a 1k-word rant on the existing state of the law there. For a country where flagrant disregard for the laws is the mark of power, where being able to opress someone is the mark of power (the more powerful person you opress, the more powerful-er you are). Varied sets of rules of different sections of society. Wear a dishdash, climb into a Rolls Royce and you can go through all the traffic signals regardless of the light’s color. Prove yourself a Saudi and you can beat any ticket, if, a policeman dares stop you.

And don’t get me started on the mutawwas. The CPVPV (in arabic, apparently English is a vice)(wiki) is as true an implementation of George Orvell’s 1984’s “Thought Police” as I would like manifested. The activities are arbitrary, the arrests are astoundingly dumb and the proposed rule of sharia has more holes than Spongebob Squarepants after being repeatedly shot with an AK-47 at close range.

Circa 2005/6/7, there was a spate of arrests and seizures of caches of weapons in SA (11 arrested Apr 2007, 170 arrested Apr 2007, ‘group’ arrested Dec 2007, 11 arrested Apr 2009). The media gave its usual spin, as is fashionable, & blamed any/all activity on al-Qaeda. But, at the risk of it being called hearsay, the actual story might just be soemthing else. Call me aconspiracy theorist, but there is too much money and oil in SA for them to allow ‘any’ terrorist organization to even think of establishing base, let alone extending operations.

Saudi Arab, in terms of being ruled, is being ruled by a bipartisan governorship. The Family of Saud manages the, what we shall call, secular part of running the country, while the Mufti handles the Islamic part. Both wield immense power and resources to utilize. The House of Saud are virtual owners of the country’s (and the world’s) most lucrative oilfields, and are in charge of the billions and billions of dollars pouring in as a result. The Muftis control the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, the Hajj, where (at the most) 2.6 mill people descend per year. Addly. there exists the most scared sites in Islam & the most sacred cities to Muslims, and that too of all sects. This ensures a steady stream of visitors, pilgrims and money, all at the disposal of the Muftis. All this is complemented by the power of the Muftis in issuing “fatwas” or religious decrees, that are, in theory, mandatory for a follower to follow.

The title “Custodian of the 2 Holy Mosques” is a way of the House of Saud to claim ‘some’ control of the Islamic branch. On the other hand, the Muftis, after 2005’s most populous Hajj ever, thought they were onto something, and tried using their powers/influence/brainwashing to extend their share of the Royals’ power and a bigger part in ruling the country (and getting to the oil money). This even led some over-zealous ones to leak out fatwas-to-be against activites that the House of Saud was firmly engaged in. Thus they started some movement. And they were nipped in the bud by the govt. Thus the arrests. The 170-people arrest had a huge number of official priests (more than 50, by some counts). Thus, also, the reporting of the arrests in the media. Thus the establishment of the rules and regulations limiting the post-arrest activites of the CPVPV (no on-spot interrgoations, handover to police etc). This gave the Islamists a firm check on the direction they were heading in and was a not-thinly veiled messge to the Muftis to stick to their job and keep their hand out of the cookie-jar. They cookie they were being handed was more than enough, or else. The semi-officical agreement reached was “you do your job, we’ll do ours. You don’t tell us what to do, we don’t tell you what to do”. And this is a state that persists till today.





One response

26 07 2009
Laith Juwaidah

I was gonna post a rant about KSA myself.. I think I still will ’cause it addresses different issues than what this post does.

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