Saudi Arabia and The U.S. have historically had friendly relations. As the world has changed with increasing pace the relationship has remained surprisingly durable and both nations have benefited. Now, however, we are starting to see this slowly deteriorate with the recent death of King Abdullah and increased concern about human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia was started in 1932 as conservative Sunni monarchy and hasn’t had any significant changes to its governing practices.
Many are concerned about human rights violations in the state. Capital punishment and public executions are commonplace in Saudi Arabia and with a globalized world these public executions are coming to light and facing widespread condemnation. One recent case that made international news was the 1,000 lashes punishment that was handed out to Raif Badawi for purportedly insulting Islam and committing apostasy.
Freedom House is an NGO that currently says the country ranks among the lowest countries in the world for human rights violations.
In the interest of productive discourse it is important to understand exactly what is happening in Saudi Arabia and not to be mislead by peoples’ misconceptions.
Purported violations include Saudi citizens’ inability to change the status quo through free speech or use of the internet. Citizens don’t have freedom of religion and even the Shiite Muslim minority are discriminated against. But perhaps most publicized – there is no gender equality.
In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive and are bound by law to cover their heads in public.
One of many Islamic nations in the region, Saudi Arabia’s legal system is based on interpretations of Islamic law. Judges in the country that hand out sentences take into account Sharia Law, current laws and like America, precedent. Many believe that the use of Sharia Law in decision making is the reason for human rights violations.