Monday, May 20, 2013

Criticism of Saudi Arabia regime either for destruction of Islamic heritage or on human rights, other issues remains a taboo in Media!

Just a few days back a group of leading Shia clerics held a press conference in Lucknow. Amongst other issues, they spoke on the continuous destruction of Islamic heritage in Saudi Arab.

The news was almost blacked out in media except a small and different sort of version which appeared in a few Urdu newspapers.

This is not the first time that such a thing has happened but it is definitely disturbing. Can't you criticise a government or a regime? Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. It's an individuals right.

In this press conference, scholars expressed their opinion about the Bashar Al Assed regime's excesses in Syria, castigated the Taliban and also expressed their apprehensions about certain issues regarding Saudi authorities. One may or may not agree to them but they are surely entitled to speak their mind. 

1. When Muslim minority expects media to listen to its grievances in a Hindu majority country, why shouldn't we at least hear the concerns of a minority among Muslims--the Shias. This is a strange paradox. I surely fail to understand it. Even English, Hindi media avoids it.

2. I am proud that in my country, a large section of Hindus and other communities speak in favour of Muslims when Babri Masjid was demolished. But it is embarrassing that mosques, more than thousand years old that have link with earliest Islamic personalities including the Prophet's family or companions, get destroyed without whimper in this 'Islamic country' under the garb of 'expansion' or 'development'.

May be a few things could be tolerated but they are not accountable to anyone, it seems. Had it not been Turkey putting its foot down and insisting that Saudis adhere to the past agreements, the situation could have been even worse.

3. On one hand, the Saudi government has done a great job in ensuring that millions of Haj pilgrims from across the world, get facilities. The infrastructure in the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah has been improved vastly in the last few decades. For this they ought to be praised.

4. I am a Sunni and don't have any close Shia friend either. But this muzzling of any dissenting voice seems odd. Saudi Arab is a monarchy though kingship is not in sync with Islamic principles. For a non-Arab it may not be too relevant whether they are monarchs or champions of democracy and justive but for the fact that the same regime then preaches and imposes rules and bizarre codes on citizens as per its own interpretations.

5. Sauds changed the name of Hejaz or Arab to 'Saudi' Arab, ie, the Arab of a family--the Sauds. The Saudi state and its allies in Gulf always seem more concerned about their own hold to power [naturally], as also the regional balance of power, even though, they are aware that they enjoy a clear authority and [will always have] because of holy sites. Still, they remain obsessed with the idea to contain Iran.

6. Because of the custodianship of the holy Islamic sites, they get enormous respect which they will always have but it doesn't mean that they can not be criticised for their erratic actions. Strangely, there is a silence among Muslims when it comes to Saudi policies, either with regard to women which are clearly divergent from the spirit of Islam, to the way they have destroyed Islamic heritage in the holy land.

7. In fact, apologists would be quick to say, 'See how much they have done for Muslims', or 'They are giving more rights to women' [Inayat, aapka Shukriya Janab] and that 'millions are employed there'. The Sheikhs' political positions is also often in contrast with views of an ordinary person on the Muslim street.

8. The way buildings were destroyed is well-known but kept hush hush. Little is discussed or spoken about in Urdu or Muslim media either. In fact, an effort seems to be going on to put Saudi sheikhs at a much higher pedestal. Is it because Petro dollars [Riyal] dazzle the eyes and then nothing else is visible?

9. From the days, when centuries old inscriptions of 'Ya Muhammad' PBUH محمد  were changed to 'Ya Majeed' مجید [One of the names of Allah] with just a few dots here and there, to razing umpteen houses of Sahaba, the demolitions, the destruction of Jannatul-Baqi, and even the ultimate fear, we have seen Saudi regimes' acts.

10. For years, this blog has not taken sectarian positions. I still don't. I have not in support of any sect nor against it. But regimes and its policies must be censured. This is no blasphemy. When either Shias or any other group speaks, why they are not heard? Muslim mind should not be servile or slavish to a regime. At least, the genuine concerns of the Muslims worldwide and their groups should be voiced, not suppressed.

If you venerate Saudi rulers and blindly support their each and every act, you are free to do so, but just remember they are not divine. Its a person's right to idolize the 'Is Zameen ke Badshah' and differ with the rest, just like many disagree with the Saudi regime on a host of issues. That's all.