Clerical Hurdles to Saudi Reform

(Washington Post) Nawaf Obaid - Decision-making in Saudi Arabia has always occurred through consensus between the royal family and the country's religious leaders. But clerics who have long enjoyed veto power over important decisions are unwilling and unable to back the reforms necessary to lead the kingdom in the 21st century. While Crown Prince Abdullah and other reform-minded royals have come to understand the need to build democratic institutions, strengthen women's rights, and protect religious freedom, the bulk of the religious establishment has worked to scale back the myriad proposals for reform in the government. Attempting to find a middle ground that satisfies the conservative clerics poses a threat to the entire reform program.

2004-03-10 00:00:00

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