Anything that challenges the Wahhabi understanding of the Islamic faith (such as the sanctity and holiness of the Prophet’s companions) is subject to criminalization under the banner of sacrilegious behaviour. Punishments for blasphemy and apostasy include lengthy prison sentences, physical torture in the form of public flogging and, occasionally, death sentences.
Results for Category: Saudi Arabia
While historical and theological antipathies do exist, it is rather Saudi Arabia’s political expediency that both prevents and advances equality between Shia and Sunnis. For the last decades, Saudi Arabia has allowed its government-sponsored Sunni clerics to demonize Shia believers, associate them with polytheists, therefore consolidating a history of oppression and ostracism from basic civil rights.
Saudi Arabia’s new assertiveness has been linked in the first place to the growing influence of the king’s 30-year-old son and deputy crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. Prince Mohammad has been accumulating power since he was appointed minister of defense immediately after his father became king. He has also dominated economic policies, rocking the commodities world by announcing the creation of a $2 trillion megafund to make the country less depend on oil.
The Saudi Majlis al-Shura or consultative council is a body of appointed members whose primary task is to study and propose laws. The council has the authority to interpret existing legislation, as well as to demand and audit annual performance reports referred to it by state ministries and agencies. While expectations for the Shura Council to represent people’s needs and wants remain high, it is worth bearing in mind that in an absolute monarchy, the Shura is currently the closest thing the Kingdom has to a democratic body.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 was announced on 25 April 2016 with much fanfare and received a positive reception from many quarters. In a nutshell, this ambitious plan calls for the weaning off of the country’s near total dependency on its oil resources and the introduction of a more diversified economic portfolio, with 2030 set as the target by which oil resources would factor insignificantly in the total GDP.
In September 2011, the late king of Saudi Arabia vowed that the female citizens of the country, long marginalized by strict social taboos and traditions, would be allowed to stand and vote in local municipal elections.The historic day finally arrived in early December 2015, and though the registered vote was ten to one in favour of men, it was still deemed a significant event underscoring female participation.