Racism is patriotism’s first enemy

The Saudi king took it upon himself to hold accountable a prince who made racist remarks

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Although it was a sports related matter, the Saudi king took it upon himself to hold accountable a prince who made racist remarks, and ordered him punished. This is the third message the state has made in the past two weeks against discrimination in society. The first message was due to a tweet by an employee, and the second due to sectarian discrimination in employment.

The Saudi state’s law of governance and essence is clearly against sectarianism and racism. However, there are certain practises by individuals or groups that have increased due to media mobilization. This makes the state’s stance essential to protect citizens and residents alike, redirecting the moral compass toward the right path.

With this message, King Salman bin Abdulaziz is solidifying basic rules of rights and duties among society’s various components. The king punished a member of the royal family to deliver a frank message against discrimination and racism, and said the kingdom is bigger and more important than all differences.

There are no societies void of racism. Unfortunately, the more a society modernizes, the more discrimination appears among its members

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The issue is not just related to laws but also to morals, as our society’s piousness and nature reject insulting and abusing others, and shaming one is more influential than government laws. However, these moral standards and ethics have begun to decline with time.

There are no societies void of racism. Unfortunately, the more a society modernizes, the more discrimination appears among its members. This is contrary to what some people think, that modernity disciplines people and their ethics. There are several means to address discrimination - the best is to spread a culture that fights it on all levels, whether tribal, sectarian, gender or nationality-related.


Narrowing differences requires a long-term educational program that entrenches the spirit of patriotism and fights racism on all levels. Such a program also needs a work plan that eliminates and pursues racism in all governmental departments, as well as in media outlets, schools and employment.

Many countries resort to a harsher punishment against those who are publicly and deliberately racist or discriminatory. Punishment first targets institutions such as sports clubs and companies, because the violations of its members and audience are considered to be affiliated with them. Therefore, an individual’s violation is considered the entire group’s because the latter would have failed to do enough to eliminate racial impulses among its employees and members.

Not everyone who is racist or discriminatory is from ignorant mobs; we also see this among the educated. This is because such acts have become increasingly habitual, and as time passes, they have become acceptable and social forms of bullying about which people keep silent.

Media outlets and social networking websites play a major role in spreading or fighting discrimination. They also have a big role in highlighting such acts and holding accountable those committing mistakes. This will contribute to cleansing society of such defects that divide people and allow attacks on others.

Collective accusations

Racism also includes discrimination against foreigners by making unjust collective accusations against them. Verbally abusing Bengalis, Ethiopians and others due to crimes committed by members of these communities is a flagrant violation against the innocent majority. We are unaware of the extent of the harm caused - either verbally or physically - due to bad propaganda spread by irresponsible media outlets.

Generalization is a hateful form of racism. Those of us who have lived in Western countries are aware that these practises are wrong and dangerous, as they incite naïve people against others and persecute society’s weakest and most helpless.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 27, 2015.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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