Friday was Saudi Arabia’s “day of rage”, planned for and anticipated for weeks. But, in the event, there wasn’t even a grumble – unless you count the ongoing protests in the eastern province which had been going on for a week.
The protests in the east, where the Saudi Shia minority is concentrated, were mostly to call for the release of political prisoners. However, across the country there was silence. Many were expecting it to be so, but some wonder why.
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31 responses to “Saudi Arabia’s day of little rage”
And theres me thinking they shot protesters… Beware, Americva invades countries which do that… it no so appears, e.g Libya…
As an older American I cannot know what is in the mind of young Saudis, but I will compare my own experiences during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The US was engaged in a long and futile war in Vietnam. Like many young people then, I was against the war. I was politically conservative at the time so I never joined to protests. At my school they were organized by various socialist groups, including groups like the IWW. When I look back at that period I can still justify my actions. Using terms common at the time, the protests against the war were co-opted. The war was a terrible mistake but the protestors ended up attacking the wrong people. They helped destroy Hubert Humphrey’s campaign and they helped elect a Richard Nixon. In short the protests backfired completely. In an effort to move the US to the left, they moved it to the right . So, even though I think Saudi Arabia needs reform, I can understand the reluctance of many to join protests.
I wish there were more WISE and ENLIGHTENED people like you sir. People that used their MINDS and not EMOTIONS in matters of STATE and Future of Nations.
Thank you for this insight.
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We saudis love our country. We also love & respect our country. Yes, there is need for reforms but there is no need of a revolution as many who were calling for protests for hoping for.
The prominent saudi who drafted petitions outlined what was needed. It is a step in the right direction.
I have noticed there are a few people who are trying to be the catalysts in such movements. Such people have personal agendas. They are worthless individuals trying to cause Fitna in our blessed land.
I hope you have not joined this group of people, writing for the guardian and sharing the same platform like saudijeans. Sister be proud of your identity and you will find that platforms like the guardian have their own vested interests in getting saudis like you to write for them.
Bandark has given the most factual feedback to it which I produce here:
As a saudi citizenI think the author needs to re-order the causes that lead to a lack of protest by impact. The real reasons are these:
1) Our life in Saudi Arabia is not bad in comparison to others. Yes, we have some limitations but for the majority of us, the state does not impose highly on our daily lives. It seems that the western world, sitting on it’s high horse, is more troubled by our lives than us and the so called “Middle East Experts” who failed to predict the silence on Friday, have really no idea who we our or how the fabric of our society is woven. Our lives are better than those living in the U.K and the rest of the western world and our government is no more corrupt than yours or the U.S. government.
The night before the so-called “planned protests” the great majority of Saudis love their country as could be seen with the Highly nationalistic sentiment of the Saudis during the football match the night before as well as on the streets. Everyone was wearing green and carrying pictures of the King who we all love and respect.
2) The initiation of the revolution was not “ours” meaning it was initiated by unknown external forces. It seems that the guardian and other news outlets failed to acknowledge or realize the fact that the majority of the 30’000 people that “liked” the revolution page on facebook were not Saudis and therefore do not reflect Saudi Sentiment.
3) The Saudi government is responsive to the general wants of the Saudi People. Now, for some reason, it seems that the west thinks that the majority of Saudi’s are liberals and would like to “open” society to meet western “standards”. this could not be more false and actually the saudi Royal family is the major catalyst of the introduction of less conservative initiatives within the country while at the same time not offending the highly conservative majority. Please do not think that the Saudi woman you meet in london who is angry she has to cover or cannot drive in Saudi Arabia is reflective of the majority Saudi sentiment. Without passing judgment on such girl, she is really not the majority of Saudis, nor is the man who would like there to be bars.
4) What was reported in the news was exaggerated and did not reflect what was happening in Saudi Arabia. If I were to follow the same reporting standards, I would write an article about how the U.S. government is unstable and about to fall as another “domino” given the protests in Wisconsin, everyone in the U.S. would not consider that true.
5) The police presence as mentioned in the authors article.
I think that this has been a lesson to all those close to the situation that, “experts” do not know what they are talking about and that the news is so selective in their reporting that they create a story when nothing really exists.
I think the USA continues to make an ” ASS” of itself by it’s “assessments” and “decisions” that have ONLY worked against it since 9/11. Though I truly love America and the Principles it was built on, I feel it is following in the footsteps of the old ” BRITISH EMPIRE” and heading towards it’s own humiliation.
I also do not see any valid reason for Protest in KSA.. None. Saudi Arabia is not Egypt nor is it Tunisia and not even Bahrain. Saudi Arabia is Unique in it’s existence and very well protected.
I also agree that this so called ” revolution” is not supported by the majority of Saudis. Unlike other citizens of other states, the Saudi holds a “Ta3biyya”.. this means that All tribes agreed to a certain unity under a certain ruling family and until today , resolve their own issues privately and without public intervention and thus PEACE is MAINTAINED.
I don’t know WHY that bothers so many people around the world?
Have we come down to the level where having Bars and Women wearing Bikinis is PROGRESS?
I agree there is unemployment – But I also feel that culture has bread LAZINESS and LIMITATION. The youth needs to conquer that and stop seeking the easy ride solution.
EVERYTHING else is undergoing change and being worked on and we ALL know it.. so what the heck should people protest about???
People need to stop complaining and start working on all levels.
May Allah protect Saudi Arabia.
Thanks for posting. As your neighbor in Qatar (an American ex-pat), it’s nice to hear from someone inside that isn’t media. It seems that the news here has stopped reporting on anything going on in the GCC, so I have been waiting to hear if anything came of Friday in Riyadh. We have our own “revolution” supposedly planned here for the 16th. Who knows. Hopefully it will turn out like yours. We had an attempted coup a few weeks ago that was of course not reported here and the facebook page that called for the revolution, had 36,000 “likes” on it last month, was “hacked” and made pro Qatar 🙂 So I guess we’ll find out this week.
Thanks for you posts!
Kell… as an american women, please tell me what would you want changed in Qatar?
What kind of a Question is that? Why and under what RIGHT would you seek changes in a country you are not a citizen of?
Does anyone know what the ruling by the Saudi clerics was actually based on when they said protesting/demonstrations were against Islam etc? I’m interested to know.
Islam forbids us to act against a Muslim Ruler under all circumstances. We Believe that destiny is decided by ALLAH alone and a good or bad ruler is a reflection of our own acts and hearts. So when tortured by a bad ruler, we look within and seek forgiveness from Allah. It often happens that things change for the better when we become better people.
You must understand , we think and operate on a deep level.
I disagree; this passive submission to rulers is an impeded concept in Islam. In fact, it came late during Abbassi ruling. Examples are plenty in Islam Sunnai heritage, one of them when 2 groups falling under 1) Ali bin Abi Talib 2) Moaiwah bin Abo Sfean (peace upon both of them). Each group had well known followers and companions of Prophet (peace upon him). All of our current Sunnai Clerks or Islamic scholars stated both parties had a just cause for the conflict; where Ali bin Abi Talib group is closure to right. During the conflict, none of the two parties deprived their counter of being Muslim, or even less Islamic. In fact at the end of each fighting day, some used to pray with countering group.
Regardless of the Saudi case, the justification of the ruler, to rule, should not be routed because “Islam said so” or “otherwise you are not a Muslim or ignorant”!! I am sure there are better reasons for Saudi rulers, to rule, without simply Islamising it!! because of this the case…?!!
@AL SAUD =>3) The Saudi government is responsive to the general wants of the Saudi People.
Al Saud, I respectfully disagree with you. An excellent classic example of “talk and no action” is that of the saudi king promising to lift ban on woman driving three years ago and it’s still the same o’ same o’ bs.
That’s not only dishonest of the king but cruel and unusual punishment of not keeping promises and outright lying. Why promise something that the king cannot deliver …. after all he is the absolute monarch. Makes one wonder the games that are played by the king and the royals????
Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers
By Damien McElroy in Riyadh 21 Jan 2008
Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state.
Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.
The move is designed to forestall campaigns for greater freedom by women, which have recently included protesters driving cars through the Islamic state in defiance of a threat of detention and loss of livelihoods.
The royal family has previously balked at granting women driving permits, claiming the step did not have full public support. The driving ban dates back to the establishment of the state in 1932, although recently the government line has weakened.
“There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court because it is recognised that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up,” a government official told The Daily Telegraph. “We will make an announcement soon.”
Abdulaziz bin Salamah, the deputy information minister, said the official reform programme had been dogged by debate over the issue.
“In terms of women driving, we don’t have it now because of the reticence of some segments of society,” he said. “For example, my mother wouldn’t want my sister to drive.
“It’s something she cannot grapple with. But there is change on the way. I think the fair view is that one can be against it but one does not have the right to prevent it.”
If the ban on women driving is lifted, it could be years before the full impact is seen. Practical hurdles stopping women obtaining licences and insurance must be overcome.
Mohammad al-Zulfa, a reformist member of the Saudi consultative Shura Council, which scrutinises official policies in the oil-rich state, said reversing the ban was part of King Abdullah’s “clever” strategy of incremental reform.
“When it was first raised, the extremists were really mad,” he said. “Now they just complain. It is diminishing into a form of consent.”
Saudi Arabia maintains a strict segregation of the sexes outside the family home. An unaccompanied woman must shop behind curtains and cannot hail a taxi.
Critics believe allowing women to drive would be the first step towards a gradual erosion of the kingdom’s modesty laws. A woman would have to remove the traditional abaya robe to get a clear view behind the wheel.
“Allowing women to drive will only bring sin,” a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. “The evils it would bring – mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women – outweigh the benefits.”
Saudi women have mounted growing protests. Fouzia al-Ayouni, the country’s most prominent women’s rights campaigner, has risked arrest by leading convoys of women drivers. “We have broken the barrier of fear,” she said. “We want the authorities to know that we’re here, that we want to drive, and that many people feel the way we do.”
How does it affect you whether women can drive here or not? They can in your country, right? So go celebrate that.
It affects me. I’m an american married to a saudi. I don’t want my wife to be riding in a taxi with some sex-deprived Bengali, Saudi, Egyptian or Pakistani who is constantly harassing her.
I was protesting alone, where were you people??!
Watching you jump up and down alone in Olaya and laughing like hell..loool! Kidding man.. sorry.
Saud is RIght. THink deep, it will make sense to you.
@AlSaud up there..
All you want is food and shelter. You don’t care about who’s ruling you or how they rule you. People like you don’t mind if the whole budget is stolen as long as there is still food left on the ground. In other words, you’re sheep.
“Our life in Saudi Arabia is not bad in comparison to others.”
Keep saying that until we are the worst.
Not surprised at all at Saudi apathy. Your choice, your lives. No one in the world cares as long as you do not export Saudi repression.
No guts, no glory!
Its always a treat when a man in a patriarchal culture claims that “life isnt too bad”…Im sure it isnt compared to the other gender.
Study history dear.. Matriarchal Societies have always perished VERY quickly.
I feel so sorry abt the women there. Especially the women who wants to live independantly.
Oh.. can you please stop feeling sorry for women here. It is even funny now. Bloody freaks! A majority of the Saudi women don’t give a damn about you feeling sorry for them and are very happy in their lives. And, be realistic, women cannot and do not live “independently” ANYWHERE on Earth. You have no understanding of the basic natures of males and females and their purpose of existence. This ” Feeling sorry” thing is becoming too dramatic and stupid. Really.
How can u speak for women in general? u re a man. If saudi is gud 4 women as u say, read this blog again. Not only abt the saudi women, i worry abt the women all over the world cos insane saudi mullas export their wahabbism over the world. That is what i worry. i dont want my daughters, grand daughters to live in a country like saudi….
the best slave is the slave who doesnt knw she’s a slave (or he’s)
Can you believe this???? I can’t!
An Islamic cleric misunderstands Islam, issues fatwa against democracy
“Cleric issues 48-page fatwa against democracy,” from Reuters, March 16.
The spiritual leader of Algeria’s influential Salafist movement has issued a 48-page fatwa, or religious decree, urging Muslims to ignore calls for change because he says that democracy goes against Islam.
The fatwa by Shaikh Abdul Malek Ramdani, who lives in Saudi Arabia, comes at an opportune time for President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika as Algerians watching protests in other Arab states have begun pushing their own political and economic demands.
“As long as the commander of the nation is a Muslim, you must obey and listen to him. Those who are against him are just seeking to replace him, and this is not licit,” Ramdani wrote in the fatwa obtained by Reuters.
“During unrest, men and women are mixed, and this is illicit in our religion,” said Ramdani, who claims several hundred thousand followers in Algiers….
Ramdani, who moved to Saudi Arabia after threats from Islamists, wrote in his ‘fatwa on unrest’ that an observant Muslim can only “pray and be patient” when faced with an unwanted ruler. “Unrest is a tool created by democratic systems which are against Islam.”
That is the Islamic Perception. How does it affect you and your life? What do you care? You should be worried about China owning the Taxpayers money for several years to come. You should be worried about Wisconsin and your own regions , faiths and issues. What brings you across the ocean to interfere in a system you have no understanding of?
I would feel very stupid if I find myself commenting on the way of life and thought in Mongolia , for example.
Yes, religion can be used to achieve political goals. Just like Judaism was used to colonize a country by the West, now in the Arab world Islam is being used to control and oppress people.
Many of those Salafis , who I prefer to call pseudo-salafis, pick Quranic verses and hadiths out of their contexts to fool people into believing they are on the right path of Islam, when in fact their aim is to oppress people, and to help corrupt politicians stay in power.
Al Maha, the Quran is easily available and easily understood for someone who uses their MIND to understand it and follow it. Once you or anyone else does it, they remain unaffected by any clergy using it for power. If they are INDEED doing so, they will pay for it, not you. You should worry about where YOu are headed.
I think it´s so interesting to read blogs by people from and in the Middle East. I may not agree with everything you say but reading you gives me a direct source to YOUR opinions, without having to depend on the media corporations.
Saudi needs some turning point
cuz many sudi prince and princesses think that they are above the law the so called law is only for ordinary men not for them
saudi needs democracy