MIDDLE EAST

Sitting and standing during the national anthem

In one week, controversy over standing during the national anthem arose in two countries with completely different cultures. In the US, footballer Colin Kaepernick angered many Americans and others for refusing to stand for the national anthem because he said he objects to injustice against black people in the US. Even veteran footballers who understand the nobility of his intentions were angered, thinking his approach insulted the entire country.

In Saudi Arabia, a photo showed a famous Muslim Brotherhood figure sitting in his chair while everyone stood as the national anthem “Hasten to glory and supremacy” was played at an official event. This reflects a deep problem of faith in the idea of homeland and citizenship, and the reverence of national symbols such as the flag, anthem, leaders and history.

Kaepernick said his motive related to human rights and had nothing to do with religion. However, in the case of the Saudi Brotherhood figure, it is clear, according to his perspective, that there are political and religious motives. Speaking of religious motives, there have been many provocative acts in the Arab world by people affiliated with politicized religious groups.

There have been many provocative acts in the Arab world by people affiliated with politicized religious groups

Mshari al-Thaydi

Arab examples

In Algeria, former Religious Affairs Minister Bouabdellah Ghlamallah suspended and punished five mosque imams because they refused to stand up as the national anthem was played. He did the same with engineering students at the Sonelgaz company’s training center.

In Egypt, members of Al-Nour Party angered people when they did not stand up during the national anthem at a meeting of the 50-member committee to rewrite the constitution. One of the famous Egyptians who did not stand up for the anthem was preacher Yasser Brahimi. Then-interim President Adly Mansour issued a decree deeming disrespect of the Egyptian flag or not standing for the national anthem a crime requiring punishment.

In Kuwait, the most famous example is Islamist MP Mohammed Hayef, who refused to stand up for the national anthem. He was fiercely criticized and had to defend himself.

This behavior is not due to individual practices in these different countries. There are clear religious edicts, by those who are looked up to as role models, prohibiting standing up for the national anthem and flag. The real debate here is in separating illusion and truth. It is about the concept of the nation and homeland, the culture of law and citizenship, and the opposite of this culture, which still controls many people.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 05, 2016.
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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.
 

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Last Update: Saturday, 10 September 2016 KSA 10:47 - GMT 07:47
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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