Saudi Arabia has long been criticized as a feeder nation for terrorists, including some of those who attacked this country on September 11th. Well, the country is finally cracking down with its own counterterrorism law but it turns out that the law may have more to do with political dissidents than religious fanatics. Civil libertarians are denouncing the law that would allow the arrest of any reformer or government critic as a terrorist.
The law seems crafted to cover critics of the Kingdom by allowing the use of special security procedures for anyone who “undermines” the state. Terrorism is defined as any criminal act that “destabilizes the society’s security or the state’s stability or exposes its national unity to harm.” It also states that terrorist acts include disabling the ruling system or “offending the nation’s reputation or its position.” So “offending” the nation’s reputation is terrorism and of course the Royal family is indistinguishable from the nation.
This law not only allows them to be tried as terrorists but allows for enhanced powers for the raiding of homes and the tracking of calls and the Internet as well as a provision that allows suspects be held incommunicado for 90 day.
The Saudi minister of culture and information, Abdel Aziz Khoja, insists that the legislation strikes a balance between prevention of crimes and protection of human rights under Islamic law. First, the protection of human rights under the form of Islamic law imposed by the Kingdom is hardly a comfort when the government is arresting women for driving or meeting in public with men as well as denying basic speech and religious freedoms. Second, I fail to see any balance in declaring people terrorists for “undermining” the government. Not surprising, dozens of activists have been detained under the law.
Notably, a similar 2011 attempt to pass this law was stopped by an outcry of civil libertarians. The law was then pushed through quietly this year without debate.
You will note the similarity of the law’s terms to the international blasphemy law pushed by Saudi Arabia with the support of the Obama Administration. Rather than offending Islam and being defined as a blasphemer, this law makes you a terrorism for offending the government. Thus, you could end up as both a blasphemer and a terrorist by offending the government on a matter of religion.
Source: NY Times