Saudi Arabia’s Revolution From the Top Has No Place for Critics

12 Oct 2017   Saudi Arabia

Few would describe Mohammed Al-Arefe as a defender of women’s rights. In one infamous video, the Saudi cleric explains exactly how a man should beat his wife. But when the government decided to allow women to drive cars, up popped Al-Arefe on state TV to say what a good idea that was. “A modest woman will remain modest whether she drives or not,” he told the nation. Other religious leaders, once hostile to any departure from traditional ways, joined the chorus of approval. The kingdom’s powerful preachers were getting with the program. A couple of weeks earlier, they’d seen what happens to those who don’t. More than a dozen prominent clerics, activists and businessmen were arrested and accused of “pushing an extremist agenda.” Under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is seeking to reintroduce itself to the world — opening its economy to global business, and its society […]

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