Saudi Fundamentalist Cleric's Fatal Ruling

[San Francisco Chronicle] Joel Brinkley - A few weeks ago, Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, one of Saudi Arabia's most senior religious authorities, directed that Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi and Yousef Aba al-Khail, two reporters for a mainstream Saudi newspaper, be executed for publishing stories suggesting that religions other than Islam are worthy of respect. Barrak, a leading authority on Wahhabism, the country's fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam, is not just some cranky old miscreant. He is a member of the Saudi legislature, appointed by the king. Two weeks after he issued that fatwa, the legislature soundly defeated a proposal to adopt a law promoting respect for other religions. In Saudi Arabia, malefactors are beheaded by sword, often in public, outside a mosque just after Friday prayers. By official count, authorities beheaded 151 people last year. The debate over the reporters offers a window into Saudi thinking and helps explain why so many Saudis dedicate themselves to anti-Western jihads. If a respected religious authority calls for the execution of someone who simply suggests that people holding other faiths deserve respect, doesn't that tell Saudis that the lives of Christians, Jews, Hindu and Buddhists are of lesser value?

2008-05-06 01:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive