Saudi Arabia to arrest bloggers for the “crime” of atheism

images-2-2The news from Saudi Arabia is as dire as ever, Gulf News reports

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has asked the interior ministry to arrest several people for apostasy and atheism.

The commission did not divulge the number of people whose arrest it requested, but it said that they insulted God and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

This is of course outrageous and a gross breach of some rather basic human rights, namely freedom of thought and freedom of speech. The Universal declaration of Human rights clearly states …

Article 18.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

… and that Universal Declaration has been signed by almost every nation state on the planet. To be totally clear, it is not simply a nice idea, but is legally binding on member states of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and of course Saudi Arabia has neither signed nor ratified it (paint me unsurprised)

So who do we complain to about the abhorrent behaviour of Saudi Arabia when they act as a rogue state and trample all over basic human rights? They have no freedom of thought, no freedom of speech, no political freedom, in essence it is a state that is simply a gang of religious thugs imposing their irrational beliefs by force.

Additionally, of extreme concern to all of us is that such religious intolerance is not simply self-contained within Saudi Arabia, but rather is being vigorously exported. There is plenty of evidence that Saudi Arabia is funding and promoting their extreme religious ideals, and we now reap a very bitter harvest with the rise of Salafist groups that utilise violence to enforce irrational Islamic beliefs.

Perhaps the issue could be raised with the UN’s Human Rights council, should they not have some concerns about all of this?

Apparently not, but perhaps that is because Saudi Arabia is itself a member of the UN’s Human Rights council.

So why is a state that has refused to sign and ratify the ICCPR and openly abuses almost ever single human right going, permitted to sit of the Human Rights council?

Brian Pellot, the human rights reporter for the Religion News Service, has rightfully called their election to the Council “a disgrace.” and I agree, they need to be robustly booted out. It can be done, the U.N. General Assembly can suspend the rights of UNHRC members that commit serious human rights violations. Newcomers China and Saudi Arabia are two of the world’s worst states when it comes to religious freedom and other human rights, and yet there they sit … why?

Basically two words … “oil”, they sell lots of it and we all want it, and “arms”, they buy lots … and so that apparently grants them a free pass. Is it not time for that to change?

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