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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Saudi cleric vs Saudi Modernization: Religion losing to Liberalism

Another Saudi cleric detained for expressing dislike over modernization in Kingdom. While Saudi Arabia is steering towards modernity, the rule of the day, dissent is an unacceptable crime, grips the kingdom tightly

Saudi authorities arrested prominent cleric Sheikh Omar al-Muqbil after his video of denouncing the kingdom’s entertainment authority resurfaced. Cleric had slammed the Saudi General Entertainment Authorities for ‘too much modernization’ in the country, which according to him is eroding its traditional identity.

Cleric Muqbil, who is a professor of Islamic law at Qassim University, had disapproved of the General Entertainment Authorities policies and deemed it a threat to the kingdom’s culture, asserted Prisoner’s Right Group. In its Twitter message, the group protested the detention of the Saudi cleric, calling it another attempt to clampdown dissent.

“This is a continuation of the arbitrary arrests that have taken place in the kingdom for the past two years, which are aimed at leading scholars, sheiks, and other free thinkers,” the Prisoners of Conscience group said.

Saudi cleric specifically loathed Riyadh’s policy of hosting concerts of international artists, a phenomenon new to the ultra-conservative religious society of Saudi Arabia.

The hideous assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington-based journalist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has sparked an international outcry.

Over the past two years, Saudi Arabia has hosted concerts of popular western musicians including Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul and others under the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, an ambitious project intended for the social liberalization of Saudi Arabia.

Last year, the General Entertainment Authorities had pledged to invest the $64 bn in the sector for socio-economic reforms.

The critics have argued that the social liberalization campaign is a distraction created used by Saudi Arabia to divert the attention of the world from its gross human rights violations in the kingdom.

The crackdown on dissent on liberal activists and religious scholars have accelerated under de facto ruler Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Sheikh Omar al Muqbil is just another in the series of several other sanctioned for voicing their opinions.

Other religious figures arrested by Saudi authorities include academician Abdul al Fawzan, the former Imam of the Grand Mosque, Saleh al Taleb, and scholar Sheikh Safar al Hawai. Sheikh Salman al Odah, an acclaimed cleric across the Arab region with millions of followers on social media, was arrested for calling out Saudi Arabia’s government for reconciling with Qatar.

Read more: Saudi Arabia turns to foreign social media influencers to improve its image

Odah currently faces the death penalty. The hideous assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington-based journalist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has sparked an international outcry.

International rights groups have criticized Saudi authorities for imprisoning activists who have long advocated for reforms. Scores of academics, writers, human rights activists, economists have been put behind bars for questioning Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s decision.