The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.
In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.
The first was when King AbdulAziz, back in the last century, unified Saudi Arabia (or stole it from the Hashemites, depending on your point of view. However the victors write the history).
The second is starting now. Am I being over-dramatic? Some may think so. However I do not believe that I am.
Saudi Arabia has always nurtured religious extremists thru its Wahabbi state religion, its educational system, and its introverted attitude to the outside world. The advent of oil provided the finance for these extremists to practice what they preached.
At first they operated abroad, in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in the Yemen. And we Saudis regarded them as brave adventurers, the late 20th century equivalent of volunteers in the Spanish Civil War.
Then came 9/11. It had become more serious. But Westerners were the target. And, at all levels, we never really condemned it. Indeed, many cheered.
Then they attacked within the Kingdom. But it was housing compounds, for Westerners. And, at all levels, we never really condemned it. And still many cheered.
Then they attacked more housing compounds. This time, Arabs, Muslims, got killed. So we didn't cheer. But they were Egyptians and Lebanese, so we didn't care that much.
Now, all of a sudden, they are attacking Saudis. OK, Saudis from the ruling tribes, part of the security forces. But we all look the same. And suddenly we are the targets. The terrorists are not going to leave us alone, because we're not part of the government apparatus. And now we are faced with the sudden realization that we should have done something about this a long time ago.
I've been reminded of the poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
A week ago we were all having a laugh at our "Keystone Cop" security forces, endlessly surrounding but never capturing. Now all mayhem has broken loose.
More Terrorists Killed
JEDDAH, 24 April 2004 — Saudi security forces yesterday gunned down two more terrorists, bringing to five the number of militants killed in 24 hours. They included four from the most wanted list.
Shaken Jeddah Residents Speak of Their Ordeal
After three men were shot dead in a gunbattle late Thursday night, security troops killed two more in the center of Jeddah early yesterday morning.
JEDDAH, 24 April 2004 — Residents of Abdulrahman Bin Khurash Street finally left their homes this morning to survey the damage done to their neighborhood in yesterday’s shootout between suspected militants and security forces.
Suffering Continues After Blast
“At about 10.15 last night the shooting started just down the street,” said Ali Al-Gurni, 23, a nurse. “I watched it from my balcony near the building where the terrorists were holed up. It lasted about 30 minutes, during which time a hand-grenade was tossed at the soldiers. During the fighting I saw a security officer get shot, shout out in pain and fall to the ground. The other soldiers evacuated him right away.”
RIYADH, 24 Apri 2004 — Although many people injured in Wednesday’s blast in Riyadh have returned home after hospitalization, several other family members still find it difficult to recover from the shock.
Yasser Kannan, who works for the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, was attending blast victims admitted to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon when he got a telephone call from his sister giving him the news that his own wife and child were injured in the attack.
So what word of comfort and encouragement do we have from our religious leaders?
Haram Imam Urges People to Help Foil Terror Attacks
JEDDAH, 24 April 2004 — Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, one of the imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, yesterday condemned the perpetrators of Wednesday’s car bomb attack in Riyadh as “outcasts and terrorists.”
.....“God will damn those who kill other Muslims, they will burn in hell,” he said.
EXCUSE ME? Are we only condemning those who kill Muslims? Is that why you said nothing after 9/11, and in May 2003, and November 2003? Now I have not had the benefit of an education at our finest theological college, but I can read what it says in the Quraan. And where it repeats Moses' (Mousa's) 7th Commandment, the unequivocal "Thou shalt not kill", it says in Surah 5 Verse 32
"Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or to spread mischief in the land, it would be as if he killed all mankind..."
Now that's a bit more qualified, but nowhere does it say that this applies to Muslims only. It applies to all mankind. So excuse me Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, and all the rest of your legalistic and sanctimonious breed, if I regard you as being the root cause of our present troubles. And I've no doubt that you wash your hands at least five times a day.