SHAFAQNA – The very country which brought the world one of the most brutal and intolerant religious ideology – Wahhabism, while operating the most oppressive modern-day theocracy is vying for the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council.
If Saudi Arabia has come to represent many things over the decades: theocracy, oppression, brutality and even at times down-right barbarism – the Kingdom has become infamous for carrying out its death sentences by beheading – upholding the principles of human rights is not exactly the regime’s forte.
And yet, King Salman, the new self-proclaimed custodian of the Two Holy Mosques did not flinch when he declared on May, 20 that, “The Saudi Arabian government guarantees freedom of expression and opposes discrimination.”
The comment was aimed at Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), Mufleh Al-Qahtani, president of the National Society for Human Rights and other senior officials during their visit to Riyadh.
Confident the King went on, “The pillars of this state are built on Islamic law that calls for the protection of human rights; and governance in the country is based on justice, consultation and equality.”
But since those pillars the King is so keenly referring to are themselves based on the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam – a sect which is by essence reactionary and fiercefully oppressive of all which it does not approve or understand, Saudi Arabia’s justice system is merely a reflection of such dystopian ideology.
Wahhabism is actually so intrinsically violent and foreign to the concept of interfaith cohesion and peaceful social coexistence that it gave birth to the so-called Jihadist movement which is currently holding the Middle East and North Africa hostage – ISIS.
To put things further into historical context, under the banner of Wahhabism, which sect came to be in the 18th century at the command of Mohammed Abdel-Wahhab, Wahhabis, or the Ikhwan as they called themselves then, raided and ransacked both the holy city of Karbala (Iraq) and Medina before marching into Mecca as conquerors. As they pillaged and massacred their way through, those “faithful” hordes turned Arabia crimson red to the swing of their blades.
Fast forward a few centuries and Wahhabism is as bloodthirsty and intolerant as ever.
When all which is not Wahhabi Islam is considered apostasy, talks of equality and justice are as intangible as mirages – and yet the Kingdom would like the world to believe in its gospel of justice.
Not content with professing the righteousness of his rule, King Salman now ambitions for the Kingdom to head the United Nations Human Rights Council.
On the very same week Saudi Arabia called for “experienced swordsmen” to join the Kingdom executioner-squad, reports confirmed Riyadh is preparing to lobby the United Nations to become the next head of the Human Rights Council, after Germany’s term end in 2016.
As Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch said, “that would be the final nail in the coffin for the credibility of the HRC.”
Neuer added rather eloquently, “Electing Saudi Arabia as the world’s judge on human rights would be like making a pyromaniac as the town fire chief.”
And indeed, in a country like Saudi Arabia, where women are no more than commodities to be traded off, where political prisoners are subjected to abject torture and where beheadings are legions, the idea that such a regime could ever be granted such a position on the world scene rings with untolerable cynism.
Since King Salman was appointed the legitimate ruler to the throne of Saudi Arabia 85 men and women have been put to death in macabre public displays. Among the Kingdom’s latest victim, a woman suspected of mental illness – Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa. She was beheaded publicly in April.
Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International said at the time in a statement, “Imposing the death penalty and executing someone with a suspected mental illness smacks of a basic lack of humanity.” But of course such condemnations and calls for restraints have mainly fallen into deaf ears since the Kingdom wages the most powerful weapons of all – petrodollars.
Saudi Arabia it appears cannot be made to abide by international standards, just as international law does not have sway on the Kingdom. If the world has somewhat come to terms with the principles of American exceptionalism, the era of all-encompassing Saudi impunity is now dawning – Saudi Orwellianism anyone?
And even if both the U.S. and the EU insist on courting Riyadh for its coffers are home to billions of dollars in arm deals and other lucrative investments, it would be difficult to whitewash 85 state-sanctioned murders, one unilateral war on Yemen and a brutal religious crackdown against the Kingdom’ Shia community.
And if as King Salman claimed “There is no difference between citizens or regions. All citizens are equal in rights and duties,” then why are religious figureheads like Sheikh Al Nimr languishing in prison?
Is it fairness when cluster-bombs are unleashed onto Yemen northern region of Sa’ada, where as it so happens Zaidi Muslims are the majority – a branch of Islam Wahhabi clerics declared as takfir (infidels)? Is it right when children are left to starve under Riyadh-run blockade on Yemen?
Allowing the Kingdom to head the UN Human Rights Council would quite simply equate to rewarding inhumanity – but then again since such values as civil liberties and human rights have become the latest casualties of Western powers’ eternal war against terror, maybe a theme is beginning to emerge.
Back in 2013 the U.S. and the European Union failed to oppose Saudi Arabia’s election to the council, let us see how they fare this time around before the petrodollar super-power.
By Catherine Shakdam – The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect that of Shafaqna.#