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25 November 2011

Freedom of Expression in Arab World

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By Syed Zubair Ahmad

In December 2002, I was in Damascus. One day one of my Syrian friends said, "Let's go and pray Asr in a nearby mosque. The objective of praying there was to see the Imam. See him carefully but do not try to talk to him”. He warned me. ‘I will tell you the reason later on’. So in the mosque both before and after the salat I tried to sneak a peek at the Imam. His face was calm and glowing. Outside the mosque, the story, which the Syrian friend narrated to me, was enough to chill the bone even of a cold-blooded person. He said that the incident is 11 years old but it concluded three years back in the tragic and painful death of an innocent child. Eleven years ago a 12-year old child of the Imam disappeared. The Imam went to the police department but they were not supportive. Then he went to the intelligence department where an officer warned him in strict words, "Go back and never ask anything about your child. Also never discuss it with anyone nor try to find him or else you would get in a big problem." After eight years of this incident and exactly on the day the boy completed 20 years of age, someone from secret services arrived and said to the Imam to go to a specified place and take his child. The Imam was ecstatic. He ran to give the good news to his wife and informed her that their son had completed 20 years of age and was coming home after eight years. So reception must be grand. A fabulous feast will be given. He went to market and bought a sheep, slaughtered it and went to the place where he was instructed to go. At the office, he inquired about his son. An officer took him inside and pointed towards a body, which was covered by cloth. When the Imam uncovered the face, he could hardly recognize the face of his son. When secret agents picked him up he was 12 years of age and 50 kg in weight but that day when his father was loading him into the car he was almost half of the weight. The child could not bear the atrocities meted out to him and had left for the heavenly abode. When the Imam reached his household, the festive mood was turned instantly into mourning. His wife asked, "You had gone to bring our son, why are you carrying this body?" The child was hardly recognizable. Marks on his body were telling the whole story. People believe that a couple of sentences of Imam had caused the death of his son.

The people who live in Arab countries are aware of such incidents. Saudi Arabia is also very notorious in punishing those who disagree with the rulers of so called Islamic system. Every now and then, Imams, religious scholars, writers, preachers, and Islamists who are critics of the rulers or the system ‘keep vanishing’ paying the price of their lively conscience. Even imams of Kaba and Masjid e Nabawi are not exempted. Disappearance of Masjid e Nabawi's Imam Abdurhman al Huzaifi is very well-known incident in this regard. If a person dares to talk about freedom of speech and expression or freedom of dissent or criticize the policies of the rulers or its time tested ally 'America', he gets punishment, and a grave one indeed.

A few more incidents are enough to show that how freedom of speech and expression is curtailed in Arab countries in general and Saudi Arabia in particular.

One of my friends was working in King Abdul Aziz Defense Academy. One day he said that a few days ago he got into trouble. He sarcastically commented while talking to the captain, "Baba (King Fahd) is only talking about treating the wounded o Palestinians while Palestinians need armaments the most to defend themselves from Israel’s atrocities." The captain was furious, "By God, you will not be able to see the sun, you are talking against the Baba (king Fahad)". Sensing the seriousness, his friends came to the rescue and intervened saying that he (my friend) is comedian and must be kidding, forgive him, please. Only then the captain calmed down.

One day one of my Indian friends was talking to a Saudi friend. They were talking of freedom and democracy in the country. The Indian friend argued that there was no democracy and no personal independence there. Hearing this, Abdullah Al-Harthi, the Saudi friend, cautioned him, "You talk about democracy; if a spy overhears, he will pull you away by leg."

Whenever I talked to my Saudi friends regarding monarchy or freedom of expression, everyone sympathized with me and cautioned me saying, "Zubair, don't talk like this here or else you would get into trouble."

A Saudi friend told me that if I inform mukhabiraat (secret agencies) about you, you will be behind bars and I will receive cash awards.

One day when I was talking on such sensitive issues, a Saudi friend Saad recorded my voice in his mobile phone and said "If I give it to mukhabiraat, you will get into trouble, next time be careful, don't discuss such things here."

Forget about me even father and son doesn’t discuss such issues with each other in Saudi Arabia fearing of being spied.

These references are just to indicate how scared Saudis are. Talking about freedom of expression, even thinking about such matters is a sin in the Saudi society. The society in which healthy criticism is not tolerated, how can it be an 'Islamic' society?

During the last century or so in many countries freedom of expression played a pivotal role in their development. Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Sudan where freedom of expression was allowed to some extent, had developed a lot. The Arab dictators and Sheikhs, who are truly westernized by nature, do not give freedom of expression to their own people. In Arab countries rulers are exercising undue and illegitimate coercive power to mentally enslave their own people that resulted in their own humiliation before the world and put the nations in chaos and anarchy.

Here it is better to clarify that by freedom of speech and expression I do not mean the concept of freedom that is prevalent in Europe and America, where it is hard to distinguish between human being and animals. Sometimes animals score over humans in humanistic considerations. Where in the name of freedom, women had been made sexual slaves, they are treated like tissue papers .Under the pretext of women's liberalization they are being used, misused or better said abused by men on the daily basis. Forget about Prophet Muhammad even Jesus and Mary (May peace of ALLAH be up on them) are not spared. While Prophet Muhammad is painted like a terrorist, Mary is depicted like a prostitute and Jesus is presented as homosexual. By “freedom of expression” here I mean to say that there must be that kind of freedom of expression where every citizen of the country feel free to ask any thing that comes in their mind regarding the state and its ruler’s way of ruling the country. The irony is that the Arab rulers and their families are the sole owners, proprietors and share holders of the whole national resources of their respective countries and nobody has the right to question with them.

Today, in 21st century the people came to know or demand ‘the right to information’ which Islam granted 1450 years back.Dont we remember the question asked by a commoner when Omar (the second Caliph) was delivering a sermon regarding his lengthy shirt?

One day Omar was addressing the people. While addressing, he paused for a moment and asked, "If I deviate from the right path, what will you people do?" After a few moments a youngster stood and answered, I will straighten you with our sword!" Hearing this, the Caliph thanked to Allah and said, "Praise be to Allah, in my nation there are people who dare straighten me with sword if I deviate from the right path."

And history bears witness that when such freedoms were usurped, rulers of bad character were imposed who asserted their authorities and committed heinous crimes and crossed all limits of barbarity and savagery. Today's Muslim rulers are their own example in oppressive, suppressive and repressive acts. They are the beasts for the flocks. They were supposed to be shepherds but they are hunting the sheeps (the Muslim masses) themselves and inviting monsters to join the feast. They were assigned the responsibilities of protecting their people but they are killing them and above all inviting the lion (American) and fox (British) to slaughter their own people. They are paid-servants of their western masters. They realize their powers and authority over their own hapless people but before enemies they become lambs. (From " Zionist Conspiracies in the citadel of Islam).

[Syed Zubair Ahmad is a Writer & Journalist. He can be reached at smzubairahmad@gmail.com]

16 comments:

  1. An excellent piece. What hurts me is when these "Muslim" countries are taken as an example of Islam to explain its "undemocratic" nature.

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  2. Readers of Indian Muslim Observer should be aware of the fact that Syed Zubai who has written this article is known for his hatred against Saudi Arabia.he has also written many silly books to defame the kingdom.He is part of the movement that is being carried out to capture Saudi Arabia so that Islam could be ousted out of Saudi Arabia.he is supporting those people who want to spread Shirk o Bidat in name of Islam.Mr.Zubair you are talking rubbish.you have become blind.i know you are supporter of Pakistani brand of Islam.writing rubbish things for sake of fake popularity is shameful that you are doing.you are agent of Jew.one day you will be exposed.just wait.

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  3. Mr. Zubair a great liar,a good story teller,a foolish man,an emotional fool.you were in Saudi Arabia but when you are forced to leave for wrongdoing and because of your own unIslamic behaviour you become enemy of Saudi Arabia.you are living in foolish world.doosron par comment karne se pahle apne garibaan me jhank kar dekhen.pahle apne ulema aur mashaikh ko sudhsro janab.jinke paise lakar yahan kaam ke naam par logon ko fool bana rahe ho unhi nek logon ko gaaliyan dete rahte ho.Indian Muslim Observer must ban this man from writing for this wondefull portal.I agree that he could be an agent of Jew and america.very shameful.

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  4. Javed Imam.BangaloreNovember 26, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Mr Ahmad is 1000% true,what he has said is experienced by millions of NRIs if Gulf.On should not get blind in giving comments.There is no comment on the issues or on the content.If there Arab rulers are so nice than why the masses are making them run run away.Would the Saudi chamchas say now the all Arabs are Jews agents who are protesting against their dictators?
    These chamchas never comment on contents ..any one who opposes the tyrant rulars,,they start saying look he is a Jew agent.
    Now it will not work.Got it Saudi Chamche?
    Give comment on the content if you have any.dont get personnel.If you have any proof against Zubair Ahmad than come out publically.
    Dont be jealous of his talent.
    Jawed Imam,
    Bangalore

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  5. Mr anonymous,,,,,YOU ARE THE REAL HYPOCRITE.....IF YOU ARE GENUINE PERSON THAN COME OUT WITH YOUR NAME ....AND GIVE YOU COMMENT ON THE CONTENT...IN FACT YOU HATE PEOPLE LIKE ZUBAIR AHMAD....WHO IS VERY GENUINE AND VERY TRUE...
    Tanweer Alam Khan,
    Nai Basti,
    Abul Fazal ,
    Jamia nagar.

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  6. is article par apni rai denewale log wahi log hain jo arab awam ko bahka rahe hain.unke awam ko wargalakar americans aur uske haami logon ki madad kar rahe hain.Qaddafi mara gaya saddam mara gaya.nuqsan kis ka hua.wahan ke awam ka.Iraq tabah hogaya aur libya ki bari hai.sach ko kobool karo.abhi tum itne taqaywar nahi ho kidushman se takra sako isliye maslihat se kaam nikalo.zubai logon ka waqt barbaad kar raha hai.

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  7. Gaddafi ho ya Saddam...ya Mobarak....sabhi American puppets the...they were no more useful to them so they disposed.....they were suppressing their own people for more than 40 years with the backing of U.S...the Arab world is better without them....this is only a transactional periods.....Now Israel will no more in a position to kill the Palestinian at will..Muslim world should use the opportunity to establish them selves....MR ZUBAIR has written a very meaningful article...what is wrong in exposing such people who are making fool their own people.

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  8. Oh my God.....Arab rulers had aligned with Zionists and Americans and there are some people who still supports those anti Muslim and anti Islamic forces........Hell with those who supports American allies.........

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  9. This person is right. I have never heard any news in which king of KSA say in the favor of Muslims. These monarch live lavish life like monarch and forgotten the teaching Muhammad(PBUH).

    Ashraf

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  10. I am giving some comments which appeared in media about this book ,especially the comment be Khalid Al Maeena the Editor in chief of Arab News who said " I believe you have made some great points"


    (1) "……Immensely informative and interesting”
    THE SUNDAY INDIAN (07/03/10)
    (2) "….A must read for all”
    INQUILAB DAILY (MUMBAI) (31/10/2008)
    (3) "Readable, revealing ….highly recommended “
    URDU TIMES MUMBAI (09/03/07)
    (4) “In fact a documentary”
    HINDUSTAN EXPRESS DAILY (05/08/07)
    (5) "……A sensitive description of Saudi society”
    MONTHLY AFKARE MILLI (Oct, 2006)
    (6) "A great contribution to the treasury of analytical study”
    BABUL ISLAM MUMBAI (March, 2009)
    (7) "…A documentary based on vast knowledge”
    URDUSTAN.COM
    (8) “A documentary….an important need of hour”
    RASHTRIYA SAHARA (10/4/2011)

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  11. There are a lots of Saudi Sponsored agents were given the to defame and criticize any one who opposes the Saudi (Arab)puppet regime.

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  12. Hatts off Mr Zubair for such a bold writing.

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  13. Whatever is mentioned in this article is very true and happening.Look what Bashar Aasad is doing to his own people.These rulers must meet the fate of Gaddafi Saddam and Mubarak.These are the real culprits of Muslim.Open your eyes and accept the facts.The writer is this article deserve our admiration.The writer is showing us our dirty picture,instead of abusing him we should correct our face.I have lived in Gulf for 17 year and experienced every thing what is said in this article any millions of people who live in Gulf countries will agree with what the writer is saying.

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  14. i was in gulf for 20 plus years i a can say before Allah that this article is based on naked truth there is nothing exaggeration in it.

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  15. the story rocked the house dog

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