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It is true, the rules of the game have changed

Saudi cleric Dr Salman al-Ouda said during an interview with TV host Abdullah al-Modifer that “the rules of the game have changed”

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Saudi cleric Dr Salman al-Ouda said during an interview with TV host Abdullah al-Modifer that “the rules of the game have changed” regarding the local situation in Saudi Arabia, and defied those criticizing him to repeat their previous accusations. I agree with him.

Regarding the bigger game, the rules have really changed, and proof of that is that Ouda spent quite some time repeating and emphasizing his innocence of incitement accusations made against him. This confirms that the game has changed, otherwise he would not have insisted on responding to the allegations in the first place.

Those claiming this era is one of extremism should try sending donations to other countries via any local bank, or try delivering a sermon that encourages jihad in other countries. The local game has changed, as has the world. When we wrote against groups that collected donations, organized camps and radicalized youths, we were called enemies of the state and religion. However, this is now state policy.

Those claiming this era is one of extremism should try sending donations to other countries via any local bank, or try delivering a sermon that encourages jihad in other countries

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

It is delightful that influential figures such as Ouda are resorting to moderate statements and rejecting others’ extremist behavior. This is what is required and sought. The popular satirical series “Selfie” serves the same purpose that Ouda addressed: standing against extremism, and rejecting solicitation and recruitment of youths.

Ouda and veteran actor Nasser al-Qasabi preach the same thing but in different styles. What matters is that people who lead by example and leaders of society push toward moderation and moderate Islam.

Clerics come from different political schools, and it is wrong to put them all in one category. Some are ideologues and some are political. There is also a third category that thinks it is smart to adopt contradictory speeches to satisfy domestic and foreign audiences. When these latter clerics preach in their own countries they tend to be strict, but when they travel they present themselves as moderates.

Shoura Council

Those who were upset by my recent article on the Shoura Council’s dereliction by rejecting to vote on the national unity protection proposal should look at the huge number of journalists who via Saudi media also condemned the Council’s decision. This is an important opinion that Council members must hear, as they must not just sit in their meeting halls and listen to one another.

Media criticisms of the Council sets a precedent and is justified. The council must view it as a sincere indication to understand the situation instead of viewing it as a systematic campaign, as some claim.

To those who accuse us of scare-mongering over sectarian sedition, we tell them Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz is the one who warned of it, saying foreign ambitions target the region’s security and stability by “creating sectarian sedition and preparing a fertile soil for extremism and terrorism.”

In another address on the occasion of Ramadan, the king said: “We will continue to shield our country and citizens against sedition, unrest and sectarian tensions, and we emphasize our total rejection of sectarian categorization.” The crown prince’s visit of the families of victims of the Qadeeh explosion has also acted as a clear message against sectarianism and racism.

Therefore, the Shoura Council should have reflected official concern and interest as well as popular anger, but it has not. What is stranger is that the Council did not reject the national unity protection proposal, but refused to study the proposal itself. Imagine, it refuses to look into a dangerous case that affects the country’s security under the excuse that there are other systems!

Most anti-discrimination laws across the world were established decades after constitutions were written because they are a requirement for coexistence in modern societies, and for confronting new and rising challenges such as immigration, and changes occurring to the concepts of the modern national state.

I have noticed a comment attributed to Dr Saleh al-Khathlan in which he describes an article I wrote in 2012 - “Why insist on begging Russia to change its Syria stance?” - as contradictory to my recent article “The Russians are coming to Saudi Arabia.”

There is no contradiction. The first article is about dealing with Russia regarding Syria, while the second is about dealing with it regarding the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. Khathlan, as a veteran lecturer who teaches political sciences, knows better than I do that governments adopt different policies when dealing with different affairs as they take into account time and circumstances.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.