|code: 328249||Date: 2012/07/10 - 22:14||source: Press TV|
Interview with Moufid Jaber with the ME Center for Studies and Research
Wahabi elite suppresses nation’s democratic aspirations in KSA
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - On Sunday, the demonstrators marched in the town of Awamiyah in the Qatif province where Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr was attacked and detained earlier in the day.
The cleric was reportedly wounded when regime forces fired at his car.
Last week, al-Nemr had warned that his possible detention would intensify the protests in the Eastern Province, the center of rallies for over a year now.
Meanwhile, Saudi forces on Saturday arrested activist Saleh al-Ashwan at his home in Riyadh, without a warrant. There has been no word on his current whereabouts.
Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held demonstrations on a regular basis in the Eastern Province, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination against Shia Muslims.
However, since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others, the demonstrations have increasingly turned into protests, explicitly against the rule of the Al Saud regime.
We have conducted an interview with Moufid Jaber with the ME Center for Studies and Research to further discuss the issue.
The program also offers the opinions of two additional guests: American philosopher James Fetzer and Middle East consultant Peter Eyre.
What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Q: Mr. Jaber looking at the situation, there has been simmering tensions, of course in the oil-rich Eastern Province [of the Persian Gulf State of Saudi Arabia] and as you know that is the region where the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia is [located].
When we are looking at how widespread these protests have become, how serious the demands are, we are also seeing, for instance, protests taking place in Medina for instance or in other parts of Saudi Arabia among other groups and tribes of people.
For instance, we know that there are thousands of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, many of them are Sunni Muslims. So basically how big or how serious do you think these protests are getting?
Jaber: The issue of democracy is a very important issue and it is inevitable that democracy comes to Saudi Arabia.
It is a demand that not only the Shiites are asking for, but more and more Sunnis are asking for it, because as we know, Saudi Arabia is a diverse country, there are Shiites, even though they constitute, maybe, a minority of the population 10 to 15 percent but you also have Sunnis who do not subscribe to the majority Wahhabi sect of Islam which does not recognize the democracy but you have a great part of the Saudi population who do demand their rights and the protests that started with the Shiites in the Eastern Province naturally came to encompass the entire other segments of the Saudi society most notably in the Jihaz and Medina also because democracy is a universal right and it is an important issue that is important for all Saudis.
Q: Let us look at how these protests have been received by the Saudi regime up until now.
Mr. Jaber we have been hearing for instance in the latest reports that three protesters, at least, have been killed and of course, a lot of anger after a prominent Shiite cleric, Sheikh al-Nemr was attacked and then arrested and there has been no news on his whereabouts or his condition.
Do you think this tactic is going to work and that the regime can control the protests spreading from the eastern region and gaining momentum?
Jaber: You know, by violently repressing the protests, they are only going to grow in number because they are going to make the Shiite population more defying.
And as we have seen the protests have spread to other regions in Saudi Arabia and the more the Saudi government represses the protests, as we have seen in other countries in the Arab world, the more the government represses the protests the more the population is keen on making its voice heard.
So, no this strategy by Saudi Arabia is not going to work; by killing protesters they are not going to be able to quell the protests and I think, you know, the protests are perfectly legitimate, the people should keep on demanding their rights even if they are going to find a violent confrontation on the part of the Saudi government because it is a very important issue, the issue of these minorities in the eastern province.
These are people who have always been extremely disenfranchised and extremely oppressed and it is something that should have happened sooner or later and I think the government’s crackdown on this protest should only make the population more and more, keen on obtaining their rights.
Q: Mr. Jaber again, if we consider that the Saudi regime is in a weak position in terms of the internal crisis that it is facing within the royal family, a whole lot of observers have been saying that the Saudi’s official Wahhabi religion is not the religion that has been adopted by the majority of the nation.
Would you agree with those who say that Saudis have actually been imposing this belief; not only on people in Saudi Arabia but also on the [Persian Gulf and the Middle East] region and this could be a good cause, for instance, for other parts of the country to restart rebelling now that the situation in being, rather, provided; there is good situation for that to happen.
That this issue of Wahhabism both in Saudi Arabia and in the region is going to affect the situation?
Jaber: The Saudi family [al-Saud dynasty] has not only monopolized the economy and the entire sector of the …, but they have also imposed their religious points of view on the entirety of the Saudi population.
As we know, the Wahabis strand of Islam only exists in the central region [of the Saudi Arabian desert], most notably in Riyadh and it is where the first Saudis state in the beginning of the 20th century, existed only, basically, in the middle region.
This is where most of the Al-Sauds originated from, as well as Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was the originator of the Wahhabi ideology, but as we know the Eastern region has a majority of Shiites and the Hijaz region has a majority of Sunnis who do not belong to the Hanbali or the Wahhabi School of thought; they belong mostly to the Shafi’i and the Hanafi schools of thought.
So the majority of the Saudi population does not belong to the Wahhabi sect and naturally these people are going to revolt, because they do not to want to subscribe to this school of thought which is being forced upon them.
It is not taking the country in the right direction in so many aspects and so, yes, the discrepancy in ideology and religious thought between the population and the regime as well as the fact that the regime has completely monopolized…, it uses the oil profits as its own source of income because as we know in Islam [teachings] oil belongs to the people, the riches that are under the land belong to the people and not to the ruler or the ruling family.
And so the fact that the al-Saud has taken this approach with regard to the oil revenues and as well as the fact that the Saudi regime is imposing its views on the majority of the population which does not belong to the Wahhabi school of thought, this is what [has] led to what we are seeing today which is an uprising by the people against this family[al-Saud dynasty].