Consequences Of Destructive Religious Indoctrinations And Taboos

Saudi religious restrictions imposed on women are interpreted to authorize men to execute women if deemed nonconformist to religious taboos.

saudi-religious-indoctrinationsStudies conducted by Saudi women suggested that “Nearly a Quarter of (Saudi) Children (are) Raped and up to 46 percent of students suffer from homosexuality.”

This should not come as a surprise given the severe and destructive religious taboos, especially gender segregation, imposed on society by zealots and their heavy-handed partners, the Saudi ruling family.

In one of his recent scare tactics and paternalistic sermons, the Saudi government’s front man, “Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Asheikh has urged the Kingdom’s youth not to visit websites that feature lewd content because such sites encourage illicit relationships.”

“Illicit relationships” means any unrelated male/female relationship, even if it’s a life-saving female physicians’ confidential communication with their patients, which the Mufti and his cohorts call “khilwa” (public meetings between unrelated genders), which incurs arrests and barbaric floggings in public squares.

Known for his obsession with women’s sexuality and fear of any hint of their self-reliance and equality, the Mufti (the highest religious authority in the country) has adamantly opposed women’s basic rights such as driving and working to earn an honest living. He and his like-minded clerics have done nothing but harm to Saudi society socially, politically, scientifically, religiously and economically.

Under his leadership, the clerics have emphasized traditional and religious education instead of modern and scientific studies. They impose severe gender segregation, teach religious intolerance and support extremism as well as encourage discrimination against minorities. They issue flawed fatwas, religious edicts, and apply a multitude of contrived taboos against all natural human cravings and then cry wolf when frustrated young Saudis resort to terrorism to act out their social frustration/deprivation and political repression.

However, no segment in Saudi society has been more targeted, marginalized and maltreated by the Saudi zealots and their system than women. The dogmatists bigotedly maintain that women are mentally and physically incapable of thinking for themselves or of controlling their sexual insatiability, therefore, they must be cloaked in black and controlled by male relatives from cradle to grave.

For example, the clerics are adamantly opposed to women’s right to drive; not only do they claim that will render Saudi Arabia a virginless country, but (according to a high-ranking cleric, Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan) “If a woman drives a car, it could have a negative physiological impact.”

He absurdly declared that “Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman’s ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward.” He continued to say, “We find that for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems.” In other words, if Saudi women are allowed to drive, they will lose their virginity and only give birth to deformed children.

The Saudi clerics, under the direction of the Mufti and his royal handlers, deceivingly insist that gender mingling is antithetical to the values and teachings of Islam; therefore, that’s a depravity that cannot not be permitted or tolerated. According to their paranoiac fear of women’s progress, the clerics insist that women must be camouflaged (disfigured) in black from head to toe. The religious restrictions imposed on women, especially emphasis of male superiority and control of the female population, are interpreted to authorize men to execute women if deemed nonconformist to the parameters of religious taboos.

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It’s no wonder that many Saudi men and women, especially youth, have resorted to underground social activities, such as entertainment and homosexuality for which they can be cruelly punished if discovered by the same system that thrust them into such undertakings in the first place.

According to studies conducted by Saudi women, “Forty-six percent of students embrace homosexuality.”

The study indicated that, “Twenty-three percent (of Saudi children) had been raped during their childhood. For 62 percent of those, the rape was never reported. This was because it (the rape) was (often committed by) one of the victim’s relatives. In the study, it was mentioned that more than 16 percent of the rapists were relatives, specifically 5 percent were siblings, 2 percent were teachers, and 1 percent were parents.”

When engaging Saudis in thought-provoking discussions about their society’s social maladies, political repression and scientific backwardness, most of them are quick to point fingers at the choking domination of the religious establishment and its royal allies instead of blaming religion itself or old traditions which the system’s operatives tend to blame for their political, social, economic and religious failures.

This is a reality most Saudi citizens are becoming increasingly aware of and are debating intensely on social media, in forums and, occasionally, on newspapers columns. Many Saudis, of all stripes and orientations, feel that in order to save their country from harmful strife and move it forward, the current religious institutions must be transformed radically or replaced by modern and inclusive entities that correspond to the demands of modernity, not the seventh century’s way of life as the clerics continue to enforce.

Despite the clerics’ malicious war on Saudi women, crippling restrictions imposed on them by men and the state’s institutionalized discriminatory policies, such as the male guardian system, courageous Saudi women are fighting to win their emancipation from the talons of chauvinism and are slowly succeeding.

However, they need and deserve support from visionary and anti-sexism women worldwide. Undeniably, there are millions of other women who need help and are financially less fortunate than most Saudi women. However, empowering Saudi women serves urgent need that affects most people of the world, especially Muslim women. Saudi women cannot achieve their legitimate rights to impact dogmatic Saudi policies without defeating Saudi extremists and their counterparts worldwide.

Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Islam and home to the 1.6 billion Muslims’ holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina; therefore, empowerment of Saudi women will resonate throughout Arab and Muslim lands and beyond.

Ali Alyami, PhD, is the founder and executive director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, in Washington, DC. CDHR focuses on promoting peaceful and incremental democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia, including empowerment of women, religious freedom, free flow of information, free movement, free press, privatization of government industries, free elections, non-sectarian constitution, and codified rule of law, transparency and accountabilityRead other articles by Ali.