Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Saudi Arabia to tackle Racism

Here's a good post from The Religious Policeman, one of the best Arab blogs, by a Saudi in exile. Slavery was formally abolished in Saudi Arabia as late as the 1960s, after intense international pressure. Of course, slavery is perfectly allowed according to sharia, which is what good Muslims should follow anyway, not the laws of the infidels. The treatment of many foreign workers, servants and maids in SA can still be very close to what civilized people would call slavery:

Saudi Arabia to tackle Racism

The Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGGE) of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which is chaired by Saudi Arabia, is drafting an Islamic covenant on combating racial discrimination. That's good, because up until now, we've been one of the most rabidly racist countries in the world, and totally unconcerned about it. Walk down any Saudi street and ask anybody who looks as though they come from points East, how do the Saudis regard and treat you? Ask the Pakistani taxi driver. Ask the Bangladeshi street-cleaner, in his orange jump-suit, sweeping up the tissues and fast-food boxes that we thoughtfully throw out of our car window as we pass. Best of all, if you get the chance, ask our Indonesian housemaids. We import Indonesian housemaids in 747-sized containers. Why? Because Saudis often find themselves in a quandary when cleaning issues arise or a meal needs to be cooked because they have never done either. To many the simple task of mopping a floor or even making a pot of tea can present a major challenge. Many Saudis never do a single household chore, and some would not be able to tell you where to find the cleaning detergents and cleaning equipment in their own homes. The responsibility for household chores is left to a family’s domestic helper.

Now good help is hard to get, and even harder to keep. So one way of keeping them is to lock them up in the bathroom. An isolated instance? No, this sort of thing is being reported all the time. Often the risk they face is sexual, from the father of the household, or the son(s), or both.
This abuse has reached such proportions, that there is a network of "safe houses" for maids who run away. Often they are pregnant, and it is the safe house that protects them from legal proceedings for adultery. And we all know the Shariah penalty for adultery, don't we? The situation got so bad, that the Indonesian government suspended the "export" of maids for 5 months.

Two Arrested in Al-Darb for Rape Attempt

Police in Riyadh arrested three young Saudis for kidnapping a runaway Indonesian maid, Al-Madinah reported. The young men forced the woman into their car and drove to an isolated area outside the city where they planned to rape her. A witness alerted the police who pursued them and arrested the men. The woman was sent back to her employer.

Oh, hang on, I misread the original article. I was getting carried away again. What the original article says, is: "...that bigotry and racial discrimination against Muslims were still rife and were now and then fuelled by attempts to defame the religion. There were double standards in international relations, foreign occupations, arbitrary economic measures and embargoes against certain countries, and exploitation of technology to disseminate Islamophobia." Silly me! I should have known better! It's like apologies; when we say that an apology is called for, we mean that you must apologize, not us. Same thing here. We are not talking about our racial discrimination against others. No, we are talking about your racial discrimination against us.

Maids, Slaves, and Prisoners: To be employed in a Saudi home - forced servitude of women in Saudi Arabia and in homes of Saudis in US

One night in 1998, "Saida," a young Filipina, was carried bloody and unconscious into a hospital emergency room. The Saudi man who took her there was not a Good Samaritan; he was her rapist. He was also a good friend of the Saudi couple who employed her as a domestic servant. When her employers learned of the rape, they rushed to the hospital-not to help her, but to whisk her out before she could incriminate their friend. They took her back into their abusive custody, where she was to see the rapist again.

Saudi Arabia: Foreign Workers Abused, Torture, Unfair Trials and Forced Confinement Pervasive

Human Rights Watch documented how foreigners detained in Saudi Arabia have been denied consular visits and forced to sign confessions that they could not read. The report includes cases of beheading in which the embassies and families of the condemned men were not informed of the executions until after they were carried out. "We found men and women in conditions resembling slavery," said Whitson. "Case after case demonstrates that the Saudis are turning a blind eye to systematic abuses against foreign workers." In one case, some 300 women from India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week, cleaning hospitals in Jeddah. At the end of each work day, they were returned to crowded, dormitory-style housing, with 14 women sharing one small room lined with bunk beds. The doors to the rooms were locked from the outside, denying the women any freedom of movement for the two or three years of their contracts. The report includes four cases of women who were victims of forced confinement and sexual abuse, including rape. In all four cases, the perpetrators, three of whom were alleged rapists, did not face criminal investigation or prosecution. The report also has information about women whom Human Rights Watch found in a prison in Riyadh who were serving sentences for "illegal pregnancies."

"Slavery is a part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad"

“Slavery is a part of Islam,” says a leading Saudi government cleric. “Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.” And he is the author of textbooks that are used to teach Muslim students in Saudi Arabia and the United States. The Sheikh has little use for the apologetic arguments of Muslim moderates. "Al-Fawzan refuted the mainstream Muslim interpretation that Islam worked to abolish slavery by introducing equality between the races. 'They are ignorant, not scholars,' he said of people who express such opinions. 'They are merely writers. Whoever says such things is an infidel.'"


At November 22, 2005 10:31 PM, Blogger Eleanor © said...

What has billions of petrodollars bought the Saudis and other Muslims? Have they spent their money on creating industries and jobs, on improving health care and the educational system? No, they can't be bothered. Instead the money is spent on Jihad and on slavery. This tiger can't change its stripes. Islam's bad habits are too well entrenched to improve. Perhaps there will be a move in that direction, but the powers that be and the religious establishment will never permit change. Islam is what it is and slavery has always been the foundation on which the ideology was constructed.


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