This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Courting Saudi Arabia? Shame, Canada!

"UN holds lavish NGO forum in Saudi Arabia while rights activists languish in prison."
"Young bloggers and human rights activists like Raif Badawi languish in prison for the crime of advocating freedom in Saudi Arabia."
"The fundamentalist monarchy is now one of 45 countries that, according to the U.N., will play an instrumental role in 'promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women'."
UN Watch

"Secularism is the practical solution to lift countries [including ours: Saudi Arabia] out of the Third World and into the First World."
"Look at what happened after the European peoples succeeded in removing the clergy from public life and restricting them to their churches. They promoted enlightenment, creativity and rebellion." "States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear." 
Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabian writer, creator of website Free Saudi Liberals
Speaking from the courage of his convictions was a goal that the liberalized Muslim from Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi, believed in passionately. And it was a conviction that he practised, even while knowing that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would extract a harsh penalty from him, as it does from any who criticize the Kingdom, much less Islam. It should always be kept in mind that Saudi Arabia has since its inception from Arabia to Saudi Arabia under the House of Saud, practised a severe Salafist brand of 'pure' Islam.

Saudi Arabia's Wahhabist Islam has been exported all over the world. With the vast fortune that the Saudis have garnered from the sale of their petroleum resources, it has expended a good proportion of its wealth in building mosques and madrases everywhere that Muslims have migrated, throughout Africa, Europe, North America. In those madrases only clerics who teach the Wahhabist brand of Islam are permitted to ply their trade. And out of those madrases come radicalized Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden and the terrorists of the World Trade Centre attacks.

Raif Badawi's passion for Islamic enlightenment and for the separation of church and state has landed him in Saudi prisons, since Saudi law highlights its right to ostracize any group or organization opposing the government for violating "Islamic Shariah" or national unity. These are serious crimes in Saudi Arabia, meriting extended incarceration. Advocating for human rights reforms can be identified as the violation of "Islamic Shariah". Mr. Badawi has referred to Al-Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University as "a den for terrorists"; an accurate enough descriptive.

Raif Badawi's 2012 arrest on charges of insulting Islam on the Internet, for apostasy through another type of crime that can result in a the imposition of the death penalty on the basis of having abandoned Islam. Mr. Badawi considers himself a Muslim, simply not a Wahhabist, the brand practised in his country of birth. For his rebellious insolence and unconscionable 'breach of faith', he was originally sentenced to seven years in prison with 600 lashes. A year later his sentence was ramped up to ten years in prison, a fine and one thousand lashes.

Mr. Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar and their young children live in Quebec. From their home in Quebec Ensaf Haider and her supporters do what they can to help support her husband and lobby for his release. In January of 2015 the first of her husband's lashes took place, fifty in all. That lashing was administered before a mosque with hundreds of spectators shouting "Allahu Akbar!" That God is Great for degrading the human spirit is in and of itself a sanctimonious sensibility assault.

Ensaf Haidar holds a photograph of her husband Raif Badawi. Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images

Ensaf Haider, referencing her husband's frail health and the debilitating impact those first 50 lashes imposed upon him, fears that additional lashings will shorten his life. In response to Mr. Badawi's predicament, vigils on his birthdays take place outside Saudi Arabian embassies in a number of countries. Amnesty International collected 800,000 signatures petitioning for his release. In Brussels the International Prize for Freedom was awarded to him. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize. And more, much more.

And what has Canada done in recognition of all this? Under this Liberal government, Canada is vying for a seat on the revolving non-permanent) UN Security Council. Canada's envoys have been busy trying to influence votes in its favour for that two-year seat. When the vote went forward to renew the Kingdom's seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Canada's envoy refused to reveal how Canada cast its vote. Canada is selling a fleet of military vehicles to the Saudi military.

And on a Canadian government website reflecting trade issues, the rubric on the Kingdom states: "The Saudi government plays an important role in promoting regional peace and stability" (cue the Saudi-led coalition fighting its devastating proxy war in Yemen). The site also states that Canada has much in common with the Saudis such as "many peace and security issues, including energy security, humanitarian affairs (including refugees), and counter-terroirism".

Energy security is just what started the Saudi intake of wealth from the West and its later partial disbursement through terrorist-training madrases of Wahhabist theology. As for humanitarian affairs, the Kingdom has taken in not one Syrian refugee fleeing the deadly rampages of the Syrian Alawite government of Bashar al-Assad. Counter-terrorism as referencing Saudi Arabia is rather an absurdity; any threats afflicting the Kingdom, yes, while it dispatches jihadis throughout the world, inspiring terrorism.

Saudi Ambassador Naif Bin Bandir AlSudairy, left, dined with Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, right, and Canadian journalists in March at the Saudi residence in Ottawa. Canada's relationship with Saudi Arabia is 'complicated,' says Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia

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