Both are considered infidels imported from the West, which lead to a departure from the so-called Saudi Islamic tradition, so that whoever speaks either of them may end up with arrest or even to be accused of stirring up sedition, which is sometimes punishable by death.
But on the twenty-third of September, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was celebrating the National Day, six Saudi activists and academics – myself included – launched the National Rally Party, not only with the aim of toppling that taboo, but also to insist that the only way in the future is towards a country Stable, secure and internationally respected in Saudi Arabia is the complete adoption of democracy as an alternative to the current system based on absolute monarchy.
The National Rally Party issued its founding statement, which is a document that was discussed by a group of exiled activists in a number of Western countries where they sought asylum, including the United States, Canada and Britain. This political party demands true democracy with an elected national assembly, separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The party believes that freedom of expression and the right to an independent civil society are vital, especially in the Saudi context, where the regime has not unlawfully stopped arresting professionals, thinkers, activists, and youth simply for expressing their opinions and directing criticism through social media.
It is also vital to have an economic program that considers the country’s natural resources a wealth that should be dealt with with transparency and equality. The distribution of wealth cannot be maintained unless it is mutually beneficial and subordinate to the national interest. The provision of social services and the distribution of resources should be based on need and not based on differentiation and the preference of relatives and acquaintances, as is the case now.
Transparency will result in attracting global investments to Saudi Arabia without going through the corrupt networks that are dominated by a gang of regime-acquirers and monopolists of resources.
The Charter of the National Rally Party insists that all citizens, in addition to residents and immigrants, are equal under the rule of law, and that sects, regions, tribes, and other ideological differences are not a criterion for entitlement, but the criterion is the rights of citizens.
The party seeks to challenge the identities that the regime nurtures and nurtures, such as tribalism and sectarianism, in order to create modern, equal and active citizenship. As part of this democratic project, women’s participation will go beyond just cosmetic reforms, such as allowing women to drive or appointing women to symbolic government jobs, with the aim of impressing observers from outside.
Given the aggressive foreign policy that Saudi Arabia has adopted recently in the region, the party calls for diplomacy to be a means of ensuring Saudi national interests, and this should avoid military action, aggression and involvement in plots against other countries, while still defending the security and integrity of the territories. Saudi Arabia against any external aggression is a first priority.
The founding members are keen to open the political party to a wide circle of members and supporters who believe in its program and are committed to accepting what it calls for. They will work together locally and internationally to raise awareness and generate support. The party adopts peaceful methods such as raising awareness and participation through the media, and exercising pressure and civil protest methods in a manner that does not threaten the safety of citizens inside the country.
The party does not aim to undermine Saudi Arabia, whose importance is not limited to being a country rich in resources and capabilities, but rather on the status it has with all its citizens and the Arab and Islamic worlds. The National Rally Party stands against the dismantling of Saudi Arabia at this critical time when it is facing unprecedented challenges due to the decline in oil resources, the accumulation of debts, the exaggeration in human rights violations and the use of repression.
No more favor
After the murder committed against Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018, Saudi Arabia’s reputation among its Western allies and partners has declined to levels it had never previously attained.
The Khashoggi assassination tore apart the myth that woven around the benevolence of the monarchy and redefined the country’s image in the imagination of the international community as a rogue state willing to violate international norms and values. If this is not addressed in a hurry, then these circumstances combined will pave the way for a slide towards violence and dissolution without real political change accompanying that.
The New Party leads the urgent needs of the country’s citizens, from civil rights to job creation, something that should be welcomed by the international community, including states and NGOs, as it promises to bring about a shift towards good governance and accountability.
The party proposes a way forward for Saudi Arabia at a time when there are looming dangers that would create a vacuum if the country went through massive unrest, and if a power struggle occurred within the royal family or an explosion occurred from within following the death of King Salman. And that is because his successor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not only antagonized his family members, but also antagonized the old elites who had always supported and supported the family, such as financial elites, tribal groups, religious scholars and thinkers.
The fate of the people
The regime has lost its legitimacy and finds itself increasingly compelled to resort to violence as a means to silence the critical voices of it inside and outside the circles of the royal family. Aggression, breaching privacy, censorship and launching threats has become the principle while accountability and accountability are absent and the rule of law is absent.
The time has come for Saudis to reclaim the true meaning of democracy and political parties that the ruling regime has long associated with discord, strife and chaos, as official religious scholars have instilled in the minds of an entire generation the idea that it is better to leave politics in the hands of members of the royal family.
The complete marginalization of citizens cannot be sustained while the Saudis are increasingly achieving remarkable successes in education and initiative.
Most importantly, they have demonstrated that they can have a political imagination that enables them to envision a future in which citizens participate in shaping the political system of their country and in decision-making.
The evidence for that is the number of political prisoners in Saudi prisons, which testifies to the high awareness that people have achieved, whose owners refuse to accept the idea that the fate of the Saudis can only be determined by the owners of royal privileges.
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