Telling the Truth, Facing the Whip

(New York Times) Mansour al-Nogaidan - A week ago I was supposed to appear at the Sahafa police station to receive 75 lashes on my back. I had been sentenced by a religious court because of articles I had written calling for freedom of speech and criticizing Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia's official religious doctrine. The most recent government crackdown on terrorism suspects in response to this month's car-bombing in Riyadh is missing the real target. The real problem is that Saudi Arabia is bogged down by deep-rooted Islamic extremism in most schools and mosques, which have become breeding grounds for terrorists. Yet the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs have now established a committee to hunt down teachers who are suspected of being liberal-minded. This committee has the right to expel and punish any teacher who does not espouse hard-core Wahhabism. During Ramadan, imams around the country stepped up their hate speech against liberals, advocates of women's rights, secularists, Christians, and Jews - and many encouraged their congregations to do the same.

2003-11-28 00:00:00

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