Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Oman and the Culture of Tolerance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The royal amnesty granted to those found guilty of conspiring against the Omani regime was not a surprising political development. Anyone who follows the political scene in Oman closely knows that the Omani authority is a model of political tolerance unmatched anywhere else in the whole region.

The Omani Sultanate suffered through a long period of civil war, which resulted in many general amnesties to those who participated in the civil war and including exiled Omani Citizens. What’s unique about the latter is the effort put forth by the Omani government by sending special delegations to persuade their political opponents to return home. Today we see these former fighters involved in public life, and all political prisoners free.

Many people are unfamiliar with the fact that at one point Oman’s Schools and hospitals were very underdeveloped. There wasn’t a single establishment that could be considered modern. People’s economic status as well as the public services sector were substandard. People were lumped in prisons without being tried in a court of law sometimes for forty years or more. That was before 1970, when Oman moved from a country in a state of total political, economic and human deprivation to a country making confident strides to catch up with modern civilization.

A Tolerant spirit coupled with reconciling mentality is always good for a country’s citizens as much as it is for that country’s political authority. On the other hand, feelings of hatred, spite and humiliation in an unjust and intolerant country create a general feeling of detestation that agitates people”s souls. Suppressed inside, these feelings turn people into bombs that could one day annihilate both them and their society.

These prisoners of opinion across the Arab world spend long years imprisoned without the least bit of consideration for their fates. Moreover, some decision-makers acquire a sense of revenge in imprisoning these citizens whose opinions diverge from the official consensus.

The royal amnesty in Oman is a victory for its people. A step like this spreads confidence, a sense of belonging among its citizens and creates an atmosphere of affinity and humanity that many societies lack nowadays.