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I Saudi-Arabia er det reformatorene som kastes i fengsel. Væpnet oppgjør med al Qaida-celler bekrefter hva som tiltrekker ungdommen. Det er også saudiere som finansierer mye av opprøret i Irak, og saudiere utgjør en stor del av de utenlandske jihadistene. Så lenge de teokratiske strukturene består vil kongedømmet fortsette å produsere terrorister.

Neil Macfarquhar har vært i Saudi-Arabia og produsert en lang, leseverdig artikkel for Nytimes. Thomas Hegghammar sa en gang at man måtte ikke tro at Saudi-Arabia var noe diktatur. Den som leser denne fremstillingen er tilbøyelig til å bruke enda sterkere ord: kongedømmet har totalitære trekk. Med den spesielle islamistiske vrien, som også Iran har islett av.

Først om de tre aktivistene, for ikke å si idealistene, som våget å trosse systemet.

Three activists – Matrouk al-Faleh and Abdullah al-Hamid, both academics, as well as a poet, Ali al-Domeini – were arrested after circulating a petition in support of a constitutional monarchy. Their lawyer, Abdul-Rahmen al-Lahem, was also jailed last autumn.
In May the three were given heavy jail terms: Domeini, nine years; Hamid, seven years; and Matrouh, six years. Lahem has not been charged.
The case has become a benchmark of the government’s attitude toward reform.
«They did not want to topple the regime and they did not question the legitimacy of the king or his sons or his grandsons,» said Fawziah al-Ayouni, the poet’s wife, a soft-spoken former teacher.
«They did not violate any law; to raise a petition to the ruler is a tradition in Islam,» she says.

Totalitære trekk

Det er selve oppfattelsen av det religiøse som er totalitær. Fordi det ikke finnes noe skille mellom stat og religion, er også statsinstitusjonene hevet over kritikk. Det produserer dobbeltmoral, et politi som opptrer uten kontroll. Borgerne finnes ikke i politisk forstand, det er selve det sivile samfunn som er forbudt.

De tre liberale stemmene sier det de mest av alt savner er ytringsfrihet. Episoden med den 31 år gamle forretningskvinnen som tilfeldigvis ble oppdaget på farens forretningskontor, forteller mye om det saudi-arabiske samfunnet. Dette skal være den religiøse varianten som oppdaget den rene islam!

A key problem is the utter lack of civil rights. Saudis are taught in schools and told in mosques that actions by state institutions like the religious police cannot be questioned because they operate under the mantle of Islam.
In a particularly graphic example, a 31-year-old businesswoman was brought in by the religious police in February, accused of office adultery and using drugs.
The woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of another arrest, said her father had been ill so she had gone to his office to fill in and open the safe. The business was raided by the religious police, formally known as The Society for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
«Don’t you fear God?» she recalls them screaming, demanding that she not address them from behind a desk because women don’t belong there. «It is a sin that you are sitting in this office around men.»
The woman says one of the men groped her while ostensibly searching for drugs before dragging her kicking and screaming into an unmarked Toyota.
She had called her husband, but when he tried to collect her from the station, they pretended she was elsewhere.
Instead they locked her into a roach-infested jail for a couple of days and forced her to endure an extended lecture by the prison’s religious sheik about the sin of adultery.
«He thought I was weeping because he was so convincing,» said the woman, pale and shaking a week after the ordeal.
She doubts most princes have any grasp of such hidden problems because no policeman would dare touch a royal.

Dette minner om politimetoder fra KGBs glansdager. Akkurat som Sovjetimperiet produserer Saudi-Arabia modige stemmer. Hvorfor har ikke disse dissidentene samme status som de østeuropeiske? De er minst like modige. Ta teologen Hassan Al-Maleky, som vokste opp i en fattig familie i det sørøstlige Saudi-Arabia. Foreldrene var analfabeter. Maleky gikk seks kilometer til grunnskolen hver dag. Han tok universitetsutdannelse, et gigantisk steg for en med hans bakgrunn. Men han velger ikke karrieren, men sannheten.

Maleky is one Saudi theologian who was imprisoned briefly and fired from his government job for repeatedly raising doubts about how Wahhabis interpret Islamic history.
Those whom the West call fundamentalists are referred to in the Muslim world as salafis, an Arabic word referring to the early generations of Muslim leaders who followed the Prophet Mohammed. Salafis believe that Islam reached its purest form at that time and should return to it.
But Maleky argues that the caliphs of the Umayyid dynasty, which ruled from Damascus from 661 to 750, were garden variety despots who decreed that the public could not question decisions made by rulers in the name of religion.
«The salafis blindly defend the Umayyids despite their many injustices,» said Maleky, a studious figure in a long white robe and white head scarf, sitting in the book-lined living room of his house in a poor Riyadh neighborhood.
«After the Umayyids, Islamic thought left everything to the ruler, absolute obedience was expected in all circumstances, and that is not right,» he said.
Maleky views Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment as the spiritual descendants of the repressive Umayyids. An article reflecting his viewpoint got him expelled from Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University, Riyadh’s prestigious center of Islamic higher education, in the early 1990’s, he says.
His books echoing similar themes are banned and he is not allowed to travel outside the kingdom.
Maleky, 38, grew up in a poor family of banana and coffee farmers in mountainous southwestern Saudi Arabia, where he walked six kilometers, or four miles, to elementary school every day. His parents were illiterate. He was the first person in his family to reach university.
When he got there, he found it even more rigid and formulaic than his earlier schooling. Hence Maleky arrived at roughly the same conclusion as Bakr and many other reformers: He had to spend his life agitating for change.
The religious establishment always calls for «dawa» or preaching, he says, but never for research or revision.
«Where are the concerns for public interest and other big issues?» he laments. «These things have no presence. Preaching here is not for knowledge and thought. «

Et samfunn som bygger på papegøyelærdom og er blottet for frie tanker og kunnskap, har ingen fremtid. Selv rikdommen blir en forbannelse for den gjør det mulig å kjøpe seg ut av problemet, slik at det vokser og blir enda mer akutt.

60 prosent av skoletimene går med til religiøs undervisning. Saudierne får et merkelig forhold til omverdenen: de tror den sammensverger seg mot dem, de er jo så annerledes.

Maleky plukker ut et bind av 16 som iinneholder fatwaer som gjelder hvordan man lever livet i kongedømmet. Hvis kristendommen har vært sex-fiksert, hva skal man si om wahhabi-islam: selv det å høre noen gurgle seg er farlig, man kan bli seksuelt tent!

He extracts one book from a 16-volume set that contains most of the important religious fatwas that dictate the rituals of daily life in Saudi Arabia. He reads a few lines each from fatwas that talk about keeping women covered, about how policemen should not wear uniforms because pants ape Western garb and how listening to the noise of gurgling water is sinful.
Once when he was arrested, Maleky said he found himself being questioned by security officers about his views toward the second Umayyid caliph.
«What does the Interior Ministry have to do with that?» he said.
The consequences of elevating extremist thought to the point where it cannot be questioned are grave, Maleky believes. «If Wahhabism doesn’t revise itself,» he says, «it will produce more terrorists.»

Saudi reformers push for rights – and pay a price