The sectarian divide threatens Saudi national unity

Many of us had hoped that the Center for National Dialogue would play a bigger role in addressing the sectarian divide

Khaled Almaeena

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The murder of 21 innocent worshippers and the injuring of 102 others in a mosque on Friday at al-Qudaih in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is an act of revulsion and should be condemned by all.

This is the second time that an attack targeting Shiites has taken place within the last few months. Earlier there was a gun attack in which nine innocent adults and children were murdered and also several policemen have recently been killed.

ISIS loyalists have claimed responsibility and have boasted of their murderous act on Twitter and other websites.

Insane ideology

The perpetrators of these murderous acts are driven by an insane ideology disseminated by self-appointed clerics and reformers.

For too long, we have kept quiet as they used the mosques, the media and all other forms of communication to spread their evil philosophy.

We did not do anything and watched silently as some imams spewed hatred and spread falsehood about Muslims of other sects.

These illiterate bigots should have been advised to shut up and we should not have remained silent and passive allowing their hatred to continue giving them the opportunity to manipulate the minds of many.

We cannot allow this hatred to spread anymore. We must not stand idly by while evil men who are bent on rending our social fabric continue with their destructive deeds.

Many of us had hoped that the Center for National Dialogue would play a bigger role in addressing the sectarian divide and in uniting our nation.

Unfortunately, the organization only paid lip service to the problem and failed to eliminate these dangerous phenomena.

Its inaction allowed the influence of the preachers of hate to spread and pollute the minds of the young and old with their poisonous beliefs.


Indeed, the nonacceptance of others continued to spread and there are those among us who harbor grudges against other sects.

The time has come for all of us to stand united to save our society from further divisions and to protect the innocent.

We should all support government initiatives to identify and crack down on those who espouse hatred. The authorities have a responsibility to ban and jail anyone who by words or deeds harms the cohesive fabric of the nation.

The education sector must be purged of academics who teach hatred against other sects and cultures. There should be no let up. This country was unified through extreme sacrifices, and it has withstood many external challenges in the past.

Let us not allow the extremists among us to divide us and undermine our progress and development. We must all share the responsibility to protect our peace, stability and national security.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 25, 2015.


Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

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