Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Herd | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Saudi minister of culture and information is currently being subjected to a furious campaign by men with knitted eyebrows, red eyes, and coarse voices — a group of voices that Saudi society knows well. They usually follow the behavior of the herd: one person espouses a particular position and begins sending out letters and printing articles. He calls on &#34people and nations&#34 to censure, condemn, and avoid a particular person. Naturally, all this deceit, humbug, and heresy takes place in the name of defending the faith and its noble values. They use the most insolent terms and epithets against the person in question. At the present time, the herd I have just mentioned has selected the person of the minister of culture and information, who is trying to propose serious development programs to rescue some of the Saudi media from overall rigidity, extremism, and the caves of ignorance that have affected them and influenced them negatively. He began by proposing a varied program that addressed the riches in Saudi society, a program in harmony with its desires, ambitions, and aspirations. (This is the only sin he committed!)

But this group has never been accustomed to operating with the policy of opinion and counter-opinion. It has no knowledge of dialogue and its etiquette. The only thing it has is the let-me-crush-its-neck principle, the irrational impugning of the targeted person”s honor, character, and morals. Oddly, this is all happening under cover of protecting the faith and zealotry. One would think that they have an exclusive agency for Islam and license to speak in God”s name on earth! Of course, what has happened to the Saudi minister is not the only incident that the Saudi scene has witnessed during this holy month of Ramadan. Although the great satans are retrained during it, it is apparent that the lesser satans are unrestrained and free.

Here we have the Saudi writer Abdullah bin Bajjad being subjected to a torrent of abuse, slander, and execration because he dared to write television scripts that reveal, explain, and criticize the methods of intimidation and contempt that these groups use to terrorize and kill people. Nasir al-Qasabi and Abdullah al-Sadhan did the same thing in their series, which was so successful this year in its episode entitled &#34Authority of the Masses.&#34 The episode stood out for its uncovering of the warped way used to achieve gains in the market of mass fatwas, which usually are offered in a style of &#34that”s what the public wants,&#34 even if everything is stated in a form that is lacking and misleading.

The savage style of rejoinder exists everywhere in the world. That isn”t the disaster. The real disaster is when this group has the audacity to believe that it is based on virtue, honor, and religion and when it finds people to believe it.