Civilizations must talk, not clash!

Updated 18 March 2015
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Civilizations must talk, not clash!

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s recent critical remarks about Saudi Arabia’s legal system have triggered controversy in the region. Sweden, like many Western countries, believes firmly in the independence of the judiciary and sees its decisions as beyond questioning or interference.
Questions are being raised against the justification for the foreign minister’s remarks. Saudi Arabia is equally committed to guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The Kingdom is determined to safeguard and promote human rights; this position was reiterated by the Council of Ministers at its meeting on Monday.
Saudi judicial system is based on Islamic law, which is the guiding principle of the Saudi State.
The judiciary enjoys autonomy; all are equal and everyone has the right to litigate in order to get his or her rights. The dilemma here is that the cultural context in Arab countries is not properly understood in other regions. This may be due to the difference within the dominant culture and civilization outside the Arab world. When one party tries to use its cultural standards and customs on people who do not follow those same standards, that party has unknowingly exceeded its rights and ignored respect for the rights of others, their preferences and their culture.
When the abusive caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) were published, the West viewed them as a mere question of press freedom. For many Muslims, on the other hand, it was a simple case of abuse of sincere religious sentiments. Freedom has nothing to do with belittling the religious symbols of millions of Muslims the world over. It is unfortunate that, despite the universal awareness due to telecommunications and social media, we remain culturally divided. Sometimes these factors lead a group to take hard-line stances when they feel their ideology and culture is being misunderstood.
The Saudi judicial system is independent, but that does not mean it does not develop. The fact is that Saudis have demanded, through their newspapers and forums, the reform of their judiciary system.
There is a huge project for the development of the Saudi judicial system and the creation of specialized courts and approval has been granted for a legal pleading system, a criminal procedure law, and a system of pleading before the Board of Grievances.
These new developments are part of an ongoing project to develop the judiciary on one hand and to guarantee its independence on the other. Nonetheless, the Saudi judicial system is different from the Swedish one and this difference does not provide any justification for one country to belittle the other country’s system.
We respect differences and expect others to understand them by looking at them from the perspective of those who believe in those differences.
Saudi Arabia is a country, like any other, with its own problems like any and it has been striving to resolve its issues. There is remarkable progress in the status of women. Women can be members of the Shoura Council and no law in the country discriminates against women. In fact, the number of women sent abroad to study has exceeded all past records.
Furthermore, a healthy debate is under way in the country on the methodology of empowering women to play their role and granting them their full rights. Saudis do not claim to be perfect in this regard but they are marching ahead on a course of achieving historical progress without creating social issues.
We are facing either a dialogue of civilizations or a clash of civilizations. Highly educated people in any country must make their political and intellectual contributions so that civilizations engage in dialogue and not in clashes. Clashes will only push us back and open the doors to extremism and terror.


Saudi air defenses shoot down missiles heading for Makkah and Jeddah

Updated 20 May 2019
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Saudi air defenses shoot down missiles heading for Makkah and Jeddah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces on Monday shot down two ballistic missiles heading towards Jeddah and Makkah, Al-Arabiya reported Monday, citing eyewitnesses.

The report said the missiles were shot down near Taif, just 50 kilometers from Makkah.

Al-Arabiya said Saudi authorities are expected to issue a formal statement later.

Houthi militants in Yemen have fired dozens of missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia.

In 2016 and 2017 the Arab Coalition supporting the Yemeni government said the militia had launched a missile towards Makkah.