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Saudi Arabia

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The ruling family in Saudi Arabia is Saud. It was Orginally established at Dariyya in Wadi Hanifa, Nejd during the fifteenth century. Muhammad ibn Saud joined Islamic revivalist Abd al-Wahhab (WAHHABISM) who later became spiritual guide for the family, the family today are still followers Wahhabism Islam. The kingdom kept expanding until it reached the borders it has today(1 ).

Saudi Arabia has the distinction of being on of the few monarchies left. Its also the birth place of Islam and has two of Islam's holiest cities Mecca and Medina. The discovery of oil in 1938 changed it from a poor country to rich country. A few are rich anyway, there is a large gap between the rich and poor most Saudis earn less than $10,000 a year and it has a unemployment rate of 35 percent. Bin laden is from Saudi Arabia as are 15 of the 19 9-11 terrorist (2 ).

Religion

In Saudi Arabia symbols of Christianity are banned, a person can Bibles, crucifixes, crosses are other Christian symbols are not even allowed for person use. Christians have been arrested and detained when they are caught worshipping. A non Muslim may not be buried in Saudi Arabia. Sects of Islam are not free from government interference, and Saudi Arabia has been recognized as the most anti Shia government in the world Shia books, education, music, and art are banned. Shia are not allowed to testify in Saudi courts (3 ).

Mosques can be the only places of worship in Saudi Arabia that is home to some of Islam's holiest sites. The vice president of Saudi human rights commission, that allowing other houses of worship was too sensitive an issue (4 ).

In Human Rights Watch World Report 2010 it condemned the Saudi government of a pattern of discrimination against Shiite Muslims, such as the clash between Shiite pilgrims and security guards in the city of Medina, it also said one Shiite Mosque was shut down by the state. It also said that "Authorities continue to systematically suppress, or fail to protect, the rights of fourteen million Saudi women and girls," (5 ).

Basic rights for all

In 2008 a child custody took an interesting spin, when a divorced couple got involved in their daughters marriage and divorce. An eight year olds mother filed for divorce on her daughters behalf. She filed against her daughters husband who is 58. The grounds for the divorce were the marriage was not consummated. The father (who supports the marriage) and the girls husband agreed that the marriage can not be consummated until the girl is eighteen. The court dismissed the mother, because the mother did not have the right to file for divorce and the girl could not file until she reaches puberty (7). It was reported in 2009 the girl was finally granted a divorce (8 ).

A 75 year old widow (Khamisa Sawadi) was sentence to 40 lashes and four months in prison for mingling with two young men who were reportedly bringing her bread (9 ).

Saudi Arabia religious police stripped stores of all red items to prevent citizens from celebrating Valentine's Day. Saudi Arabian kingdom follows the ascetic Wahhabi school of Islam that bans all Christian holidays(10 ).

Though there is a push for moderation, some Saudi clerics urged the kingdom's new information minister to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines. The also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja, to ban music and music shows on TV. In a statement they said "We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you," and "We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair." (11 ).

Terrorism.

Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz said in response to the Saudi governments relative silence about 9-11, "We find, unfortunately, that in our nation there are those sympathetic with them [Osama Bin Ladin and Al Qaida]... We will not forget that those who now are in their caves and burrows, they are the ones who do harm to the kingdom, and unfortunately Muslims are being held accountable for them although Islam is innocent". And "place responsibility on those who harm the security of the nation" (12 ).

The Rand Corp warned that the Saudi government will not "act in lockstep" with the US against Iran. Even though the Saudi government often opposes Iran, though it also warned "Both sides are careful not to create too much instability in the Persian Gulf,", even though many times the two countries interest intersect (13 ).

International affairs

In January of 2010 Saudi Arabia declared victory at the Saudi-Yemen border. Yemen's six year Houthi rebellion spilled over into Saudi territory. Houthi offered a conditional truce with Saudi force (14 ).

The rebellion started in Yemen in 2004 it founder was Zaydi leader Badr al-Din al-Houthi and was renewed several years after his death by his brother Abd al-Malik the aim was to other throw President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government and restore the Shia imamate that was toppled in 1962 (15 ).

Foreign ministers from the USA, Saudi Arabia, Britain and twenty other countries showed support for Yemen fight against al-Qaida and urged economic and social reforms to insure stability of the government. They also gave a severe warning against inaction( 16 ).

A kinder approach

The Saudi government has attempted to reform terrorist, this has been branded as ineffective by critics, and they cite, the attempted attack on Christmas day by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab directed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Qaeda deputy leader in the Arabian Peninsula al-Shihri said "By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for,". A total of 11 graduates of the Saudi program have returned to al Qaeda (17 ).

Over the past decade the number of Saudis and Muslims who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol has tripled. In response the Saudi government is spending $60 million on a drug and alcohol treatment center that will serve "entire Islamic Middle East" and have 250 beds (18 ).

Reform

On October 14 2003 a protect was held in Riyadh, King Fahd Street demanded reforms of from the Saudi government. A very courageous step, the government bans such demonstrations. By the end of the week the Saudi government said that within three years a third of its 120 member Shoura Council would be elected instead of appointed as well as regional councils (19 ).

The Shoura was created in 1993 and had sixty members their purpose was to advise the King. It has doubled in size and King Fahd on November 29 2003 increased its power. The royal decree said "Whenever the Shoura thinks there is a need to either review a law, to initiate a new law or to abolish an existing law, it can now start the process right away without having to request permission from the king," without seeking permission from the King (20 ).

Prince Saud al Faisal Who is a graduate of Princeton and is one of the most pro-Western members of the Saudi royal family. said, "We are not experimenting with reform," and "We are moving with all deliberate speed." (21 ).

King Abdullah endorse the construction of a women's only university that will have a library, conference centres, 15 academic faculties, including facilities for medicine, dentistry, nursing, naturopathy and pharmacology and a 700-bed hospital. It can have 40,000 students and will be used to promote education for women (22 ).