Saudi Arabia's Repression of Atheists

In February 2016, it was widely reported that Saudi Arabia had sentenced a young man to 10 years in jail and 2,000 lashes for posts on Twitter advocating atheism.

According to a Saturday report in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — the Saudi religious police force whose duties include monitoring social media — found more than 600 tweets posted by an unnamed 28-year-old dissenter.

According to the report, the man refused to repent for the tweets and said that he had the right to assert his opinions.
In addition to the 10-year prison term, the court sentenced him to pay 20,000 riyals — about $5,330 — and receive a beating consisting of 2,000 lashes. Such floggings are generally broken up into weekly bouts of 50 lashings each and administered according to specific guidelines.

In 2013, Saudi Arabia convicted activist Raif Badawi of “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and apostatsy and was sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes. That sentence was increased in 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a fine.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia updated its anti-terrorism laws to include atheist advocacy as a terrorist act. According to Human Rights Watch,

The interior ministry regulations include other sweeping provisions that authorities can use to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam. These “terrorism” provisions include the following:

Article 1: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”

This is the country that U.S. political leaders extoll for the “extraordinary friendship and relationship” it has with the United States.

Saudia Arabia’s Witch Hunts

Human Rights Watch has a disturbing report about witch hunts in Saudi Arabia where witchcraft is still a crime punishable by death. And since Saudi Arabia also lacks a penal code, what constitutes witchcraft and what evidence can be used to demonstrate that someone has practiced witchcraft is entirely up to individual judges.

In one of the cases Human Rights Watch mentions, Lebanese television psychic Ali Sabat was arrested in Saudi Arabia while making a pilgrimage to Mecca for the Hajj.

Religious police arrested Ali Sabat in his hotel room in Medina on May 7, 2008, where he was on pilgrimage before returning to his native Lebanon. Before his arrest, Sabat frequently gave advice on general life questions and predictions about the future on the Lebanese satellite television station Sheherazade, according to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar and the French newspaper Le Monde. These appearances are said to be the only evidence against Sabat.

Sabat was sentenced to death in November 2009, and is not the only person awaiting execution for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. In 2006, a Saudi judge sentenced Fawza Falih to death for practicing witchcraft and she is still being held awaiting the carrying out of the death sentence.

Obviously bringing international attention to these cases may force the Saudi Arabian government to think twice about actually going forward with the executions, but it has no compunction against carrying out such sentences. According to Human Rights Watch, in 2007 it executed Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim for the crime of sorcery.

Selling Organs to Saudis

Imagine you need a liver transplant, but there’s a problem. There is, of course, a shortage of organs and unfortunately you are the 52nd person on the list in your region. What do you do?

Well, if you’re a Saudi national, you pull some strings, and you get the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to agree to pay the hospital about 25 percent more than a typical liver transplantation would cost. Mysteriously, you then go to the top of the list and get your liver.

At least that’s what happened at St. Vincent Medical Center in California. Staff at the hospital allegedly falsified numerous documents in order to cover up the blatant sale of the liver to the Saudi national.

In fact, St. Vincent’s appears to have been the place to get a liver if you happened to be a wealthy foreigner. Nationally, the United Organ Sharing Network decrees that no more than 5 percent of organs should go to foreigners. Nationwide the rate is much lower, according to the Los Angeles Times, but at St. Vincent’s 8 percent of all liver transplants at the hospital went to foreigners(and St. Vincent’s is a very large transplantation center).

St. Vincent’s organ transplantation program has been suspended and UNOS is still investigating. What they should do in response to this create an open market in organs and allow the rest of us to get in on the money. Organ selling — its not just for corrupt California hospitals anymore.


Hospital Halts Organ Program. Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2005.

Saudi Arabia: We Could Increase Oil Reserves by 77 Percent in Just a Few Years

Just how much oil is there, and when will the world begin to run out of it (if ever)? Part of the problem answering that question is the amount of known oil in the world keeps increasing, especially in the face of market demand such as the recently relatively high prices for oil.

On December 26, for example, Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Naimi claimed that his nation could come close to doubling its proven oil reserves over the next few years. Naimi issued a press releasing saying,

There are big chances to increase the kingdom’s produceable oil reserves by 200 billion barrels. This will come either through new discoveries or through increasing production from known deposits.

Currently Saudi Arabia’s proven oil reserves sits at 261 billion barrels. Naimi’s comments came as the country opened new oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia which Naimi says will allow Saudi Arabia to increase its daily oil production from 11 million barrels/day currently to 12.5 million barrels/day over the next few years.


Kingdom Will Meet Oil Needs of Asian Economies: Naimi. ArabNews.Com, January 7, 2005.

Saudi Oil Reserves Could Increase by 77%. Associated Press, December 27, 2004.

The Muslim Fred Phelps

The other day I noted that religious nutcase Fred Phelps was thanking God for the tsunami that hit Indonesia and other Asian nations. Apparently Phelps is joined in this assessment by a number of Muslim extremists.

According to MEMRI, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris gave a sermon televised on Palestinian Authority Television claiming,

The oppression and corruption caused by America and the Jews have increased. Have you heard of these beaches that are called ‘tourists’ paradise?’ You have all probably heard of Bangkok. We read about it, and knew it as the center of corruption on the face of this earth. Over there, there are Zionist and American investments. Over there they bring Muslims and others to prostitution. Over there, there are beaches, which they dubbed ‘tourists’ paradise,’ while only a few meters away, the locals live in hell on earth. They cannot make ends meet, while a few meters away there is a paradise, ‘tourists’ paradise.’

Do you want the earth to turn a blind eye to the corrupt oppressors? Do you want the seaÂ… Do you want the sea to lower its waves in the face of corruption that it sees with its own eyes?! No, the zero hour has come.

While Mudeiris thinks this was God punishing the Jews, Saudi Arabian professor Sheikh Fawzan Al-Fawzan hits the Phelps theme that God hates homosexuals — and banks,

hese great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities, and even entire countries, are Allah’s punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims.

Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction. We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant. The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That’s when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect.

All that’s left for us to do is to ask for forgiveness. We must atone for our sins, and for the acts of the stupid people among us and improve our condition. We must fight fornication, homosexuality, usury, fight the corruption on the face of the earth, and the disregard of the lives of protected people

Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid blames the tsunamis on Christmas and New Year revelers,

The problem is that the [Christian] holidays are accompanied by forbidden things, by immorality, abomination, adultery, alcohol, drunken dancing, and Â… and revelry. A belly dancer costs 2500 pounds per minute and a singer costs 50,000 pounds per hour, and they hop from one hotel to another from night to dawn. Then he spends the entire night defying Allah.

Haven’t they learned the lesson from what Allah wreaked upon the coast of Asia, during the celebration of these forbidden? At the height of immorality, Allah took vengeance on these criminals.

Those celebrating spent what they call ‘New Year’s Eve’ in vacation resorts, pubs, and hotels. Allah struck them with an earthquake. He finished off the Richter scale. All nine levels gone. Tens of thousands dead.

It was said that they were tourists on New Year’s vacation who went to the crowded coral islands for the holiday period, and then they were struck by this earthquake, caused by the Almighty Lord of the worlds. He showed them His wrath and His strength. He showed them His vengeance. Is there anyone learning the lesson? Is it impossible that we will be struck like them? Why do we go their way? Why do we want to be like them, with their holidays, their forbidden things, and their heresy?

Religious extremism — it is the other universal language right after English.


Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Tsunami: It was a Punishment from Allah for Celebrating Christmas and Other Sins; It was Caused by the U.S., Israel, India. Middle East Media Research Institute, January 7, 2005.

Just How Backward Is Saudi Arabia?

Okay, there are sexist, misogynistic societies, and then there’s Saudi Arabia.

My wife and I got a hint of just how backward the country is many years ago when my wife gave driving lessons to several women from Saudi Arabia. Their families were scandalized enough to know that they were learning to drive, but this was compounded by the problem that they could not go to any commercial driving schools in the United States because they might have to interact with male instructors. So my wife made quite a bit of money teaching Saudi Arabian women to drive.

But you don’t realize just how far along the misogynistic scale that a society can still be until you read defenses of the system in Middle Eastern outlets, such as Arab News. Arab News’ Raid Qusti has an op-ed defending his view that efforts by Saudi women to vote are pointless and a waste of time,

We are not the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, or even Egypt. Our society is entirely different. Complete segregation of male and females in all aspects of our life is part of our culture, whether we like it or not.

The other factor we have to bear in mind is the conservative nature of Saudi Arabia. Saudi women do not appear in public, be it in the media or in public life. And when they participate in events it is segregated with women only allowed to attend. No cameras allowed.

Open all of our 11 Saudi dailies from cover to cover and you will not find a single photo of a Saudi woman. I believe that most Saudi females would not run for office, and restrictions from their families and social taboos would stop her from appearing before a camera and present her agenda. Getting a Saudi female to actually appear on television for a short interview and state her full name ? even if she has her face covered ? is an endless endeavor. Most would reject it. Both for personal reasons, because she does not want to appear in public, or for cultural reasons; that her husband or family would prevent her from doing so.

Social restrictions forbid women to appear in public. We, Saudi men, are not the ones who have come up with this culture. In fact, the majority of Saudi women want that. Whoever thinks that the majority of Saudi women want mixing and want to appear in the media or in the public eye is naïve or a fool, or both.

But it is what Quist has to say a couple paragraphs later that is most shocking (emphasis added),

I think Saudi women have more important things to concentrate on for the present. One of them is to insist their names be heard in public. Currently, the social norm is that uttering a female?s name in public is taboo. That is why all Saudi wedding cards that are distributed to male guests say, ?We would like to invite you to the marriage of the young man so and so to the daughter of so and so?. Her name is never mentioned. Her name being mentioned to men is a taboo.

This is a society that makes Medieval Europe look like “Herland”.


Why Women?s Voting Is Complicated. Raid Qusti, December 1, 2004.