Saudi Arabia and protecting public taste

Mashari Althaydi
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I’ve recently read in Okaz that the Saudi Shura Council will look into a draft bill or regulation on “protecting public decency.” This is the best piece of news I’ve read about Saudi Arabia in a while!

Some may find this news surprising at a time when bloodshed and strife dominate most Arab countries. However, if we examine the situation closely, we’d realize that man is the reason behind these ordeals, whether he’s the ruler or the ruled and the unjust or the persecuted.

Nations are destroyed when they lose their morals. If youths grow up while respecting elders, looking after young ones, respecting education, loving cleanliness and having mercy on others so God can have mercy on us, savagery, selfishness, greed, shamelessness and frivolity would come to an end.

Concerning the Saudi piece of news, Shura Council Member Doctor Fayez al-Shahri submitted a draft bill that includes fines and prison sentences for:

-Sitting on and occupying the seats and facilities of the elderly and people with special needs.
-Dumping trash on the road or in any public facility.
-Obstructing public facilities or roads directly or indirectly without a legal justification.
-Dumping food and cigarettes from cars, dumping trash on the road or placing it outside the trash bins.
-Bullying in all its forms or making improper or racist remarks, insulting others and molesting them.
-Not respecting one’s turn in queues.
-Violating the rights of the elderly and of people with disabilities at public facilities and when receiving certain services.
-Intentionally harming pets or treating them violently during games.
-Obstructing medical aid from reaching accident sites.
-Sending ads (I liked this one a lot!) via electronic messages services without the recipients’ approval.

Some may aske: Is the state, its Shura Council and executive institutions responsible for “raising” people and teaching them morals? Isn’t this parents’, schools’ and the communities’ job?

It’s true but the government also has a role to play especially that traditional educational institutions have fragmented.

Dr. Shahri said he proposed this draft bill due to rapid communication changes and the weak role of social control institutions.

It’s a good piece of news, and as Ahmad Shawqi said, an entire nation is intact when morals are intact.

This article was first published in Arabic.

Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi 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. Althaydi 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. He tweets under @MAlthaydy

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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