Reform or Reaffirm? Mohammed Bin Salman’s Plan

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The world is intrigued by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bringing “reforms” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which may impact the rest of the Arab/Islamic world.

So far the extent of the reforms is as follows:

  1. No room for corruption even if it is found in the royal family
  2. Women can drive (conditional on permission from their mahram (guardian)
  3. Women can attend sports events (but must sit in “women only” areas of the stadium)
  4. Husbands are prohibited by law from spying on the cell phones of their wives
  5. Israel has a right to exist

It’s a great start for the women of Saudi Arabia and for other Muslim countries to review their foreign policies viz-a-viz Israel.

However, none of the above changes have anything to do with reforming Islam.

The point is that none of the 57 Muslim countries that form the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the largest voting block in the UN and which I call “the real Caliphate,” has adopted the mandate of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as established by the United Nations in 1948.

Rather they have their own bastardized version of “human rights” called “The Cairo Declaration,” which basically does not give women full rights and does not reflect upon the lack of human rights in the Muslim world. I will truly believe that reform has started when Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the OIC.

Article 18 reads:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, worship and observance.”

For Saudi Arabia, it is imperative that they release Raif Badawi before we can even begin to discuss reform.

Until then we will wait and watch and hope we will not be disappointed. Stay tuned …



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Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza is ​an adviser to Clarion Project. ​She is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.

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