Saudi authorities reversed a contentious video defining homosexuality, atheism, and feminism as ‘forms of extremism‘ a day after it was posted on the official Twitter account of Saudi Arabia State Security.
The video also listed more than three dozen acts as a form of extremism, warning citizens to be flogged and imprisoned following the violation of strict social codes. “Don’t forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered extremism,” a voice in the video was heard saying.
The #HumanRights Commission confirms that feminism is not criminalized in the Kingdom of #SaudiArabia and that it accords the utmost importance to women's rights, pointing to the fundamental strides taken in the empowerment of women which have granted her her complete rights
— HRC International (@HRCSaudi_EN) November 12, 2019
Following the video, Al Watan, a government-backed newspaper, published the report reminding the citizens of dreadful consequences if breached the laws.
Perhaps the international outcry had forced the Saudi authorities to take down the video. The General Department of Counter-Terrorism that had produced the animated video called it ‘baseless‘ and removed it on the purported pretext of having “many mistakes… defining extremism.” Newspaper Al-Watan removed the report on the contentious video too.
Modernity: A Faux Show?
Saudi Arabia has failed to placate the disgruntled human rights campaigners who have expressed serious concerns on the video, which, they say, echoed the Kingdom’s tacit approval for a hardline and strict interpretation of Islam.
The analysts believe the video was a reminder to people of the mighty authority of Saudi monarchs in the land owing to the recent wave of anti-government protests sweeping other Arab nations.
Equating feminism to extremism ran a shock wave among people since Saudi Arabia is seen making prominent progress for women’s rights and freedom in the country.
An announcement by Saudi state security labelling feminism, atheism and homosexuality as extremist ideas punishable by jail and flogging is outrageous and exposes the Kingdom’s dangerous intolerance https://t.co/QLnHBjrntN
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) November 12, 2019
Saudi Presidency of State Security: Content of anti extremism promo video "inaccurate, contained many mistakes in defining extremism." https://t.co/28zFOcPzDn
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) November 12, 2019
Various international commentators asserted that the video has blown the lid off from Saudi Arabia’s hidden intention of sustaining authoritarian rule despite flaunting a modernization campaign under Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s Vision ‘2030’.
Some quoted Saudi Arabia’s outrageous move of arresting a dozen Saudi female rights activists’ just before lifting the ban from women driving in the Kingdom. Adding that the message was widespread to the dissidents in the country that reforms in the country will happen upon the will of the Saudi monarch only, and feminism will purely be regulated by state rather than women activists.
The Human rights groups across the globe have urged the EU, UK and the USA, the western ally of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, to closely monitor the actions of the country.