Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

You are also Responsible | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If the Saudi authorities had been unsuccessful in uncovering the recent terrorist plot in the kingdom, the consequences would have resembled a destructive earthquake. The magnitude and the hideousness of the plans and the extent of their destruction are astonishing to any human being.

Previously, I had written that the war on terror was not only about security; we also highlighted the importance of improving education and religious discourse, and doing away with the features of extremism, however, today, it is inevitable that we approach the region, which seems, through the silence that surrounds it, to have become immune from blame, and it is always compulsory that discourse is addressed to the state, whether Saudi Arabia or otherwise.

At this point I would say that in the same manner that the state and the Saudi government has responsibilities and duties, every citizen has responsibilities and duties to protect himself, his family and his country. Where are the parents of those young men who became time-bombs whilst still in their adolescence? How did they go abroad to receive training on how to use weapons and change psychologically to such an extent, becoming time-bombs without their families sensing it?

It does not suffice that man protects his sons from drugs and stealing only, but rather shields them from ideological deviation as well, and through observing them, the family and the country will also be protected. This suggestion maybe baffling to some; however the people of the Gulf are aware of the extent to which these youths are connected to their families and the role of the family in the social fabric.

It is not enough to send these young men to school as many parents have complained about teachers or have shown observation. In addition, many of us have criticized the sermons at Friday prayers that sound more like the Aljazeera channel. I will relate two stories, the first of which happened to me personally and the second account I heard through a trustworthy associate.

On my way from Washington, as I prepared to stay in Jeddah from where I would travel to London to resume my work, I registered my children in an international school in Jeddah so that they would not be affected by switching from one curriculum to another when my daughter turned to me and asked, “is it true that Jews originate from monkeys?” I asked her who had told her that and she replied, “A teacher, and she said that they are criminals because of what they are doing to the Palestinians and that they occupy their land.”

I explained to my daughter that though the latter of the teacher’s information may be correct and that they cause atrocities that she was too young to understand, her teacher had committed a crime against her as she was teaching her lies!

This school is a public school that follows an international curriculum not a state school, and the teachers are not Saudis and my daughter is taught in the English language! Undoubtedly, I objected strongly against the teaching of lies, for which I am paying!

The second incident is about a man who turned to the Imam of a mosque for help to persuade his son not to go to Iraq. The surprise was that this Imam was actually the one who convinced the boy to go to Iraq in the first place without reporting it to the authorities. And here lies the question: where are the responsibilities of the citizens towards their children?

Why the lax restrictions on financial dealings such as Zakat and others when we know the system needs reviewing? What about being careful about where your money is going? Why are we being dragged into supporting those who spread hatred against another nation and then race to find a means to study abroad?

Why is the improvement of education seen as westernization and the issue of women in employment viewed as offensive and dishonorable whilst everybody suffers in search of help to obtain employment for daughters? Even worse is the issue regarding the spread of extremism amongst women and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Why is it the case that anyone who seeks to explain matters in a rational manner is presented as anti-religion? Nobody can prohibit you from practicing your rituals but who gives you the right to denounce some individuals as non-believers whilst praising others? For how long will the denial and placing the blame on others continue? Who is the “other” at a time when we see terrorism devastating the world and we know who the perpetrators are. They are damaging the Islamic religion and our countries.

Despite of what is said, we are all responsible and if we do not step up to our role, we will be victims of our own silence and negligence when we surrender our minds to those who sell delusions!