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Saudi Arabia: Rights activists defend alleged drug smuggler! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Last week I wrote an article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s rights” [18/04/2012] and the whole world was turned upside down, especially those who consider themselves to be human rights activists in Saud Arabia; they issued the most slanderous insults against me, launching a campaign that went far beyond the pale. Yet these so-called human rights activists have today hit another bump, which is no greater than the previous bump they hit before.

Last week I wrote an article questioning the position of Saudi human rights activists after al-Qaeda admitted kidnapping Deputy Saudi Consul Abdullah al-Khaledi in Yemen, and then demanded the release of prisoners affiliated to al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia in return for letting him go. Among the names demanded by al-Qaeda were several female prisoners, and it was ironic that these were the same names whose cases have been adopted by those describing themselves as human rights activists, in campaigns against the Saudi state. The activists claimed that these women had been imprisoned because of their opinions, but al-Qaeda exposed itself, and exposed the activists, when it announced, in a telephone conversation between one of its members and the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, that those being defended by human rights activists in Saudi Arabia were none other than prisoners affiliated to a terrorist organization, which now wants to secure their release and transfer to Yemen!

Today the human rights activists – a false term they do not deserve – in Saudi Arabia have been exposed again by another scandal, that of the arrest of the accused Egyptian Ahmed al-Gizawi. It was rumoured that he had been arrested immediately upon his arrival to Saudi Arabia solely for raising a lawsuit against the Saudi King. Those claiming to be human rights activists rushed to his defense, demanding his release, but they were soon exposed by another scandal, this time by the Egyptian Ambassador to Riyadh, who confirmed the Saudi story and revealed that the man was being held on charges of smuggling narcotic pills into Saudi Arabia, and not because he filed a lawsuit against the Saudi King! Is there anything more scandalous than this for those who claim they are Saudi human rights activists? Of course they are very far from that in reality!

The truth is that no one can claim to be a human rights activist and then launch a frenzied campaign against me because of an article I wrote last week. True, the title of my article was worthy of debate, but these activists had no idea how to do this and opted to insult me instead of putting forward an opinion worthy of standing behind, or a vision that shows a degree of awareness. This was a frenzied campaign of obscene words, not worthy of any attention, and unfortunately some of those responsible for this were Saudi journalists, and this demonstrates the magnitude of the flaws and chaos inherent in the Saudi cultural and journalistic scene. However, the question that should be raised today, further complimenting the question I posed last week – which went unanswered – is: is there nobody among these so-called human rights activists who is rational and aware of what is happening? If al-Qaeda exposed these activists the first time, and the slanderous Egyptians exposed them the second time, the question is: when will those advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia do justice for themselves and come out and say that they have misunderstood the concept of rights, and that – so far – they have been as far as possible from real human rights advocacy?

Why do they not, for once, admit that they are not aware of what is going on around them, and that they are oversimplifying matters? Why are they not aware that by issuing insults or being an instigator, this in no ways means that they are human rights activists, although it does mean that they are pseudo-litigators! I hope they have answers this time around.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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