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Saudi Barbarity Grows Bolder

Protest over the execution of Indonesian migrant worker Tuti Tursilawati in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia at Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday, November 2, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Lotulung / NurPhoto / Getty Images)
Protest over the execution of Indonesian migrant worker Tuti Tursilawati in front of the Saudi embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, November 2, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Lotulung / NurPhoto / Getty Images)

Saudi barbarity grows bolder as the regime launched multiple execution campaigns on both foreign nationals and in foreign lands.

It’s a move that has American Muslims pushing further away from the “birthplace of Islam.”

 

Saudi Arabia’s Murder of  Jamal Khashoggi

On October 2, 2018, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was attacked and killed in a Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi had flown in from the United States to settle paperwork ahead of his marriage to his fiance. Saudi consulate cameras show him entering the consulate, but cameras failed to record thereafter.

Saudi officials burned through a series of deniability claims, including that Khashoggi had left and also doctored video footage of his departure. They later confessed Khashoggi had died in a “fight” in the consulate, presumably at the hands of the hit squad sent in to kill him and who also allegedly cut Khashoggi into pieces and possibly dissolved his body in acid. Turkish authorities leading the investigation shared news that a 15-man hit team had flown in on a private plane ahead of Khashoggi’s arrival and departed soon after.

Khashoggi was an open and vocal critic of Saudi government and policies, but still retained hope that the regime might alter its course of action.

 

Saudi Arabia’s Ruthless Treatment of Foreign Workers

On October 29, 2018, the Saudi regime executed an Indonesian maid, Tuti Tursilawati, who killed her Saudi employer as he attempted to rape her. Tuti, a mother of one, was held in prison for seven years for the attack before being killed without any notice given to Indonesian officials.

Paired with on-street protests in Indonesia outside the Saudi consulate, Indonesian officials have been in an uproar about the execution, especially given the horrific conditions for Indonesian workers in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, 18 more Indonesians are on death row in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a country where South Asian, Southeast Asian and African immigrant labor force often have no rights or protections. They’re seen as subhuman and are expected to accept any abuse their employers choose to inflict, including sexual abuse:

  • Maids are treated like slaves with a steady stream of abuse across often 21-hour work days.
  • Maids can also be “lent out” to others and are often forced to surrender their passports to their employer.
  • Domestic workers can be victims of organ trafficking during their employment.
  • Arab supremacism subjects non-Arab Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to a steady stream of abuse including Bangladeshi workers, Kenyan workers, Philippino workers, Vietnamese workers and more. Each case is a story of 21st century enslavement in a country that many non-Muslims and Arabs consider to be the “heart” of the Islamic world.

 

Saudi Arabia Drags Back Female Asylum Seekers

Countless stories have surfaced of Saudi women, including those within the privileged royal family, attempting to find asylum outside of Saudi Arabia. Failed efforts are followed by a desperate fear of the punishment, abuse — and often honor violence — that awaits these women when they return home.

  • Sisters Ashwaq Hamoud and Areej Hamoud fled Saudi Arabia to escape abuse from male family members. Their attempt to flee to New Zealand was cut short by authorities who suspected the sisters were trying to flee.
  • A 24-year-old Saudi woman, Dina Ali Lasloom, was returned to Saudi Arabia by authorities in the Philippines while in transit attempting to escape a forced marriage. She has already been beaten by her uncles, with evidence of bruising on her arms. She has not been heard from since. When asked about her, Saudi officials respond that it is a “family matter,” which is interpreted to mean that how her family chooses to deal with her stands as the only recognized authority. Dina’s rights and vision for her own life are not recognized.
  • Mariam al-Otaibi, 29, fled an abusive family, but was quickly captured and jailed. Mariam is also a fierce campaigner against guardianship systems.
  • Sisters Talea Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were Saudi asylum seekers whose bodies were discovered in the Hudson River late last month. They were duct-taped together at the waist and ankles, and placed face to face.

In neighboring Dubai, a princess tried to flee the country by boat, only to be stopped by Indian authorities. Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum commandeered a boat with the help of friends and fled the country, only to be brought back screaming as Indian authorities handed her over.

While Dubai is not Saudi Arabia, the patterns of abuse toward dissidents, asylum seekers, royals as well as the non-elite is identical. Both in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, fundamentalism runs rampant in forms beyond jihadism and Islamism. This is institutionalized barbarity and corrupt patriarchy at its worst.

According to Human Rights Watch, under Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system“Adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel abroad, marry, or be released from prison, and may be required to provide guardian consent to work or get health care. These restrictions last from birth until death as women are, in the view of the Saudi state, permanent legal minors.”

 

Saudi Barbarity Undermines Saudi ‘Custodianship’ of Islam

As Saudi barbarity escalates and is demonstratively visible, more Muslims are disassociating Islam with Saudi Arabia and calling for boycotts of the Hajj. The yearly holy pilgrimage to Mecca has always anchored Saudia Arabia to Islam, despite the fact that most Muslims are not Arab.

Iran and Qatar have already begun distancing themselves from the Hajj due to political turmoil. Tunisia’s grand imam has called for a boycott over regional wars, urging instead that Tunisians use their money to improve local conditions.

Indonesian students are also pushing back against Saudi Arabia for leveraging the Hajj as a political tool, including shutting down student conferences in Indonesian because Saudis didn’t approve of the topic.

In the U.S., American Muslims eager to carve out an American Islam are taking note of the waves of conflict that Saudi Arabia has with neighboring states, including unchecked abuse, failed reform initiatives and a clamp down on free speech. These are counter to the values American Muslims cherish and are building their identity on.

At large when you ask American Muslims how they feel about the country, the responses tend to range from disdain and mistrust over Saudi barbarity. That’s something to keep in mind as the Trump administration (and American celebrities) court Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who has been hailed as a reformer for the kingdom.

 

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SQ
Shireen Qudosi
Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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