Priority and Inconvenience
by wallabies on April 14, 2016 - 7:35pm
The implementation of religious values in the government has been a controversial topic for multicultural countries, such as Canada, because they believe that religion and politics must be divided for the people to truly live in a free society. However, in countries where the majority of citizens practice the same religion, laws are created from the basis of their religious teachings and are established for everyone to abide by.
A country known for its emphasis on religious values is Saudi Arabia; laws created by its government ask that everyone abide by what their Islamic religion promotes as right and wrong. For this reason, its government established a police department called the Haia force, which main purpose was to arrest individuals who went against or disobeyed Islamic teachings. Recently, however, Saudi Arabia asked its religious officers to enforce Islamic-based laws to its citizens in a kind and harmless manner. Thus, the religious police, the Haia force, is only given the responsibility to report acts that Islam describes as sin, and arresting individuals is no longer its concern. The official authorities named by the government must be the one to determine if the offence is considered legal or illegal, as well as they have the right to arrest the person who commits it (“Saudi Arabia strips religious police of arresting power”). The reason as to why the right has been taken away from the Haia force is due to reports that claimed they abused their power and caused unnecessary harm, especially towards women (Said-Moorhouse).
As stated previously, the difference between Saudi Arabia and any country from North America is the relation between the population and the religion it practices. Because it is a country in which the people are coerced to practice the same religion, its system of law and government are developed from what Islam preaches. There is, for example, the segregation of the sexes which ensures that women cover their physical attributes with a veil. This law ensures that the female population obeys God’s order- women must not show off their ‘adornment’ to men who is not in the family (“Veils and Covering”). Other duties that the religious police had were to arrest those who drank alcohol and performed witchcraft (“Saudi Arabia strips religious police of arresting power”).
Controversies that rise from this issue concern the implementation of religion or secularism in the government’s decisions. Secularism depicts that religion must stay outside of political decisions, and implemented laws must be created out of reason and not a judgment clouded by religion (“Religion and Political Theory”). Despite not going to the extent of establishing a secular government, Saudi Arabia has raised questions since its change in regulations with regard to the role of the Haia force. With less power given to them, the society is prone to have a misinterpretation of the Islamic law and a change of beliefs. North American countries may think this as advantageous as the people are now less coerced; Saudi Arabia, however, does not entirely share the same idea because it is not multicultural and Islam is the state religion. Therefore, the majority of citizens who seek to live in an environment pleasing to God may feel that their peace is disrupted. Yet, there are also those who claimed that the religious police deprived them of their rights and did not truly abide to God’s commandments. What is important to remember is that Saudi Arabians prioritize religion above all else, contrary to many other countries who firstly seek for personal freedom.
In conclusion, the worldviews of religion and secularism both collide against each other in this controversy, and the government of Saudi Arabia strives to maintain its religious values, whereas the North Americans are apprehensive of having their government adopt a state religion. The question that remains with this issue is whether Saudi Arabians are satisfied with the Haia force receiving less power than it initially had or do they believe that other problems may arise with this absence.
“Saudi Arabia strips religious police of arresting power.” Aljazeera. Aljazeera, n.d.. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
“Veils and Covering.” The Religion of Peace. The Religion of Peace, n.d.. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Said-Moorhouse, Lauren. “Saudi Arabia strips religious police of arrest powers.” CNN. CNN, 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
“Religion and Political Theory.” Stanford University of Philosophy. Stanford University of Philosophy, 2 Oct. 2002. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.