Sunday, November 14, 2004

Saudi Arabia

Freedom of expression is severely restricted by prohibitions on criticism of the government, Islam, and the ruling family.

Public demonstrations pertaining to political issues are completely prohibited.

The king rules by decree in accordance with the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law) and with the consensus of senior princes and religious officials. There are no elections at any level and political parties are illegal.

Freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia is virtually nonexistent for those who do not adhere to the Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Women cannot get an identity card, obtain an exit visa, or be admitted to a hospital without the permission of this guardian. Women are segregated from men in public—barred from most workplaces, taught in separate schools, restricted to “family sections” of restaurants and female-only stores, prohibited from driving, unable to travel without a male relative, and required outside the home to wear the abaya, a black garment covering the body and most of the face. The religious police (mutawwa’in) harass women who violate these social codes.


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