A strong warning to the purveyors of disunity in Saudi Arabia
These are sad days for our country when we have to guard our mosques to protect ourselves as we pray
Another Friday and another bomb aimed at innocent worshippers in the Eastern province. This time, the attacker, dressed in an abaya, blew himself up after his suspicious movement caught the attention of one of the young guards assigned to protect the premises. In the process three promising young men also lost their lives. The alert and vigilant mosque guards and security personnel saved many lives as the bomb was of high intensity. Indeed, it is critical for all of us to remain alert to the danger posed by terrorists who are bent on creating havoc and destruction.
These are sad days for our country when we have to guard our mosques to protect ourselves as we pray. This second attack does not bode well for the Kingdom. It means that there are local hidden hands with a deadly hidden agenda. Unfortunately, their existence is the result of a perverted ideology that was allowed to be nurtured and brewed for a very long time.
Many tolerated these extremists among us thinking that it was a passing phase. However, there were also those who remained alarmed and warned against them, but, unfortunately, they were not taken seriously and were labeled secular, liberal and un-Islamic. It is time we promote wiser policies to confront the dangerous threat to our security.
Iron grip on society
For years, the control of extremists over education and their iron grip on society did not leave any room for tolerance and moderation in our daily lives. They spread venomous literature extolling jihad against other religions and other sects. They manipulated all forms of social media and mosques became vehicles for disseminating their distorted views.
These are sad days for our country when we have to guard our mosques to protect ourselves as we prayKhaled Almaeena
Today, some may claim that we cannot do much and that the cancer has spread too far. However, there is a lot that can be done to confront the danger. Among the most urgent actions to be taken is a warlike response not only on the security front but also on the social level. A massive rehab program in schools and academic institutions is needed to influence acceptance, tolerance, plurality and multiculturalism. The rejectionist ideology must be confronted and contained. Enough damage has been done. It is critical for the Ministry of Education and other governmental institutions to be purged of these deviants.
This week the Minister of Islamic Affairs warned imams of mosques of disciplinary action if they dwell on politics. This is an important step in the right direction. The minister’s threat to those who go out of the fold and call for dissent and form secret cells or promote racist slogans within society sends a strong message to all the extremists among us. They need to understand that their ideology will not be tolerated any longer. This warning should be reiterated and a law should be enforced to criminalize hate speech and the instigators of violence.
Citizens of all sects and beliefs should have the comfort of knowing that there is a law that protects them as equal members of society. The government should take immediate action and be serious and forceful in stopping the influence of the purveyors of disunity. They are a threat to our very existence.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 31, 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 email@example.com and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena