BBC Report on Saudi Arabia and the struggle for democracy

A Point of View, Middle East & North Africa, Politics, Saudi Arabia | | March 13, 2011 at 14:21

Saudi Arabia has come a long way since I lived there. No high rises, cell phones, shopping centers then. But women still can’t drive, can’t vote and are subject to the will of their fathers, husbands and brothers. And Saudi Arabia is still a theocratic kingdom with very little democratic process. But the unthinkable is happening even there.

People are asking for more say in their government and more freedom of speech and information. There have been recent demonstrations – unheard of before – and quickly put down. The Shi’a minority is especially restless, but plenty of the Sunni majority would like to modernize too.

On the surface, this is not one of the Mid-East countries seen to be boiling over with cries for change. Many of the people in this most conservative of kingdoms seem content to continue on the same path. But with fear of reprisal as a tool for silence, any who have other thoughts are unwilling to speak their mind outside their trusted inner circle.

One of the strictest forms of Islam rules the Saudi kingdom – a form of Islam that forbids civil disobedience. So not only do Saudi’s have to fear their government, they also have to go against the principles of their religion.

See this BBC report. See the brave people willing to speak on camera.

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