Boycotting Saudi Arabia Should Be an International Imperative

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By financially supporting Saudi Arabia, countries like the US are complicit in human rights abuses and the spread of terrorist ideology.

More than a month has passed since the heinous crime committed against journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has been found that the perpetrators of this act were Saudi officials whose cold-blooded crime was committed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. According to some investigations, the crime was committed with full knowledge, and probably under direct commands, of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman.

The murder of Khashoggi, whose criticism of some of Saudi’s policies did not sit well with Bin Salman or the Saudi regime, incited international fury. The way the crime was committed, the treatment of the body afterward, the location of the murder, and the clear assault on freedom of press and speech were among the reasons why there was an international condemnation of the incident.

The murder of Khashoggi brings to mind Saudi Arabia’s unpleasant track record of human rights abuses: the long ban on women driving, which was partially lifted in 2016, the war in Yemen, which has resulted in famine, diseases, and the deaths of thousands of civilians, and many more atrocities the Saudi government continues to commit.

Khashoggi was not the only critic of the government to be dealt with brutally. Though he faced a terrible fate, others have also been punished unfairly, and severely such as the famous blogger Raif Badawi. Some have had to pay millions to the crown prince in the famous incident of the mass arrests earlier this year, such as prince Abdullah Bin Miteb who paid 1 billion Dollars, and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal who paid an undeclared sum.

Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses bears a resemblance to other nations who face international unapologetic condemnation such as Iran and North Korea. Many countries are fast to wage sanctions against the aforementioned countries. When it comes to Saudi Arabia, however, with its strategic and economic benefits, there is silence and compliance towards its barbaric ways of treating its own citizens and those of other countries.

Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi

Trump’s visit with Saudi King Mohammed Bin Salman, Credit Observer

Many people around the world find what Saudi Arabia does to other countries such as Yemen repulsive, and all human rights organizations have called for Saudi’s policies against other nations and against its own citizens to stop. This brings us to an important question; what can we do about it? What is keeping us from boycotting the Saudi government and sanctioning it in order to deter it from continuing with its atrocities and violations against human rights?

Boycotts and sanctions have proven to be a very effective way to change international realities. If it were not for international pressure and popular boycotts against the government in South Africa during the 80s, what else would have stopped it from operating as an apartheid entity?.

The call to boycott and sanction Saudi Arabia stems from the country’s policies against its own citizens, war crimes against Yemen, the funding of terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and responsibility in spreading extremist Islamic ideologies. But this call for boycott needs the engagement of two important agents; international bodies, and Muslims.

Countries like the United States, which strike arms deals for billions of dollars with Saudi Arabia, are direct accomplices in funding its atrocities, including the execution of people committing adultery. International bodies need to realize the social cost of their relationship with Saudi Arabia. The money and business deals with Saudi Arabia will only empower its government to continue committing human rights violations.

Another important reason to reexamine the relationship with Saudi Arabia is that many documentaries–most noteworthy “Saudi Arabia Uncovered,” which is available on Netflix–have examined how curriculums teach children that everyone who isn’t Sunni is an infidel that should be killed, ideas which very similar to those of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. So by funding such propaganda, Saudi’s allies are funding the very enemy they claim to have been fighting for years.

Correspondingly, Muslims from around the world should also engage in a different kind of boycott; a religious boycott.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not grant tourist visas. Muslims deem Mecca the holiest place in Islam. Saudi Arabia is expected to earn about 150 billion dollars from Hajj by 2022 according to an article published in the Times of India, and this money comes from visas and travel permits as well as direct spending in the kingdom.

Muslims around the world should realize at this time and age that their prayer money comes at the extent of others’ suffering. In Islam. Hajj should be open for everyone, but Saudi Arabia banned citizens of different countries from performing their religious obligation due to political differences with their governments. Muslims have to realize that as long as their fellow Muslims are being killed unjustly, and banned from performing their religious duties, Saudi Arabia should be boycotted.

It is very crucial at this time to be aware of the danger that the Saudi regime poses to world peace and to human rights and to realise that by keeping ties with it every country is complicit in violating people’s rights. By dealing with this regime, the United States and all other allies of Saudi are sponsoring the very terrorism they claim to be against

It is now time to call for a worldwide boycott and sanction movement against Saudi Arabia until it shows that it respects human rights, and there are no more indications that it is the biggest sponsor of extremist ideologies.

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