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Mohammed Contends

July 8, 2013 – 12:53 pm14 Comments

By Yaakov Gorr

niqab2I don’t know if Mohammed will ever be able to return to Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed approached me, a private law tutor, for assistance in researching his planned master’s dissertation.  Western law schools expect a level of analysis far beyond what Saudis are used to providing, he said.  Wahhabi education is similar to the rote-learning of Confucianism, he said, where the teacher teaches and one recites one’s lessons back.  He wanted to bounce ideas off me, to develop them to the point that he could submit them to his supervisor.

He persuaded me when he mentioned the Arab Spring and Daphna Leef in the same sentence.

Mohammed ended up writing two papers.  In his first, he wonders if Saudis can ever achieve human rights, and his arguments are important for those arguing for the legitimacy of Israel against claims that we Israelis violate the human rights of Arab citizens within and Palestinians without.

Wahhabism (he writes) has no conception of human rights separate from Islamic law, or Sharia.  Therefore rights under Islam are limited to those which Sharia allows.  As Sharia requires the absolute subjugation of the ruled to the ruler, (and Islam can be translated as “subjugation” as well as “submission”) and as at least in Saudi Arabia the ruler claims divine appointment, rights are limited to whatever the king says that they are.  Broad “anti-terrorism” laws enforced by religious police and specialised courts allow imprisonment for “upsetting the fabric of the Saudi State”, which includes just about any form of social protest.  The law has been used against women whose only act of social dissent has been to drive a car, an activity prohibited to Saudi women within the country.

The country is an absolute monarchy, and has never had national elections.  All political power is vested in the royal family, as is most of the national wealth.   Much of the public finances are blurred with the private wealth of the king and princes.  The king is the final court of appeal and can over-rule the decision of any court in the country.  There is an advisory council but no parliament so the king makes all laws and appoints all ministers.

How is this justified?  By the Cairo Declaration of Islamic Human Rights and by the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, both said to be directly inspired by the Qu’ran.  It’s worth reading both, they aren’t long documents and each is on Wiki.  Both restrict the rights of all women and all non-Muslims.  Neither allows for freedom of religion and each confirm the death penalty for changing one’s religion.  The Saudi conception of “changing one’s religion” includes apostasy or uttering heresy, acts defined sufficiently broadly to include expressing dissenting opinions in religious matters.

Mohammed provided evidence of there being over 30,000 “religious” prisoners in Saudi Arabia – what  we would have called “political prisoners” in the days of Stalin.  That means that more than one Saudi adult in 500 is a political prisoner.  Many of these have been “disappeared”, KGB style, without trial or charge.  Their numbers include prominent university professors and dissident clerics.

Dissent is blamed mainly on foreign influence.  The current whipping-boy is Iran (although there is some evidence of this), which brings me to the second paper.

In his second paper, Mohammed blames the Gaza conflict of 2008 solely on Iranian breaches of international law by funding a proxy army which sought to attack Israel.  He quotes the Hamas Charter (which is worth reading in itself) about the historic duty of Muslims to kill Jews, supposedly a hadeeth (Saying) of the historical Mohammed.  Google it yourself – type in “Jew Muslim kill tree stone” and see what you find.

Whilst Mohammed himself says that this can be interpreted out of existence – and think of the way our Rabbis dealt with the concept of mamzer or how the High Court dealt with the concept of “Trading and financial corporation” – he argues that Hamas believe it literally and in acting accordingly carry out the wish of the Iranians to do – exactly the same thing.  He claims that this is illegal in international law and that the Israeli actions of self defence are justified.

It’s no surprise that Mohammed’s university, fearful of losing its authorisation from the Saudi government to host Saudi students, counselled Mohammed to tone down his papers (he tells me).  This university has over 100 Saudi students who contribute fees of over A$3 million per year.

We Israelis do not have 0.5% of our citizens in secret prisons or 14,000 people held without trial.  Not even Hamas alleges that we have 0.5% of Palestinians held in secret prisons or without trial.  Nor do we sentence our dissidents – or even convicted terrorists – to death.

Mohammed has provided me with each paper.  Email me for a copy of either.


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  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Editor: Please do not post Islamophobic comments. These will be deleted. This is not up for discussion. Further violations will result in suspension.

  • After seeing the first sentence on the front page, I thought this article was going to suggest that Mohammed could never return (from the dead) to Saudi Arabia today, because he’d be thrown out (or worse) for not being “frum” enough!

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Oh for goodness sake, it is the atmosphere of political correctness that endangers everyone’s lives. No one is going to speak out and also the young man from Saudia Arabia who speaks out honestly about what he knows more about than any of us. e ends up in prison or worse and this policy of appeasement continues and every one digs their heads in the sand and pretends it is whatchamacallit phobia – see you have got me afraid to say the word or I get suspended, and yet the hatred that spews out of their media goes unchecked and I censored. Have we all gone nuts???………?????

  • meir rabi says:

    and what was it that you think opened his eyes?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Meir if it is not obvious to you by now, please don’t ask me to spell it out to you. I have always given you more credit for intelligence, please do not disappoint my expectations of your thinking prowess. OK?

  • meir rabi says:

    If I am usefully intelligent, it’s mainly due to often being surprised at how much I don’t know and how surprised I am by thoughts and perspectives of other people that did not register at all on my radar. A teacher is no teacher and has no students until they know enough and are brave enough to disagree with their teacher and a Chacham is not wise until he understands that he is or should be a Talmid Chacham, a student of wisdom and constantly in need of learning. So, I like to ask questions even if I think I have an answer, and am mostly surprised and delighted by new perspectives.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Isn’t that a normal, intelligent response to the world?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    I have not burnt a mosque or church yet and cannot see myself doing so in the near or far future or stringing up gay people or spitting on black people.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Ilana, please do not post one comment after another. Please wait until someone else has commented before making a subsequent comment.

  • Shirlee says:

    Editor: Personal insults violate our comments policy. This is your second violation and will result in suspension of your account until further notice

  • meir rabi says:

    Ilana, my question, “and what was it that you think opened his eyes?” was addressed to Yakov. Sure I might have my own ideas but I would like to hear from others.
    I dont understand the tone of your responses

    Re the editorial control, I am in favour. The fear that there will be less comments only means less useless comments and more useful comments delivered in a more productive manner

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Editor: Our comments moderation policy is clear: do not discuss moderation issues in thread. Email the editor instead. I have had to intervene in a number of your comments over the past couple of days. Please read the “editorial” section carefully as any further infraction will result in suspension of your account.

  • David Schulberg says:

    I am interested to know whether this student would have been required to despatch copies of his work to Saudi authorities for scrutiny.

  • George Peters says:

    Sorry for some of the typos above

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