The assassination attempt on Prince Mohammed Thursday shocked everyone and exposed the new direction that Al Qaeda is taking. Fortunately the only fatality was the terrorist himself.
Since the news got out there has been this outpour at not only the political but also at the cultural and social level. On Facebook, one Saudi suggests that all men dressed like muttawa should be stopped and questioned. On a more serious level, major newspapers include articles that only begin with the assassination attempt and from there the authors and comment posters criticize the whole religious fundamentalist movement within the country concerning education, human rights and domestic tourism.
In Al-Watan today, Abdulla Al Fowzan, has an article in which he respectfully tells off the Grand Mofti, (the highest rank in sheikhdom) for saying in a speech he gave last month that the monarchy and sheikhs are in an exclusive partnership in leading the country. Al Fowzan basically analyzes the comment and rejects it. He criticizes the religious leaders for being stagnant in keeping up with the needs of the people and times. He ends the article with the opinion that sheikhs are only one small facet of our leadership and other facets should include all other factions of our society. I’m writing this at 8 am so the article has only been online a few hours and yet people are posting their comments. Two so far linked fundamentalists to the ban on women selling lingerie. And of course you have a few of sheikhs’ supporters who predictably accuse Al Fowzan of going against Islam.
Since March the religious puritans have been getting louder and more powerful; more muttawa raids in malls, cancellations of plays and festivals, and even statements by high-ranking officials that were obviously made only to appease these fundamentalists. The assassination attempt has empowered people to speak out. And so has apparently turned the tide in favor of the average Saudi, even if only temporarily.