Is Religion the Reason for the Mistreatment of Women in Saudi Arabia
by Gabriel M. on October 2, 2017 - 9:37am
Is Religion the Reason for the Mistreatment of Women in the Muslim World?
In the last few days, we got the news that the current king of Saudi Arabia, Salman Al Saud will allow for women in Saudi Arabia to be able to drive. This move comes as there is growing pressure from the heir to the throne Mohammed Al Saud, the king’s son, to move Saudi Arabia towards modernisation rather than traditionalism. Saudi Arabia is one of the few nations in the world where women are oppressed so much they can face prison time and sometimes even death simply for supporting their own independence.
But this struggle for gender equality is something found not only in the kingdom but also within the Muslim world in general. In fact, the ten worst countries for gender equality according to the WEF are all Muslim, with the worst being nearby Yemen. With the middle east struggling when it comes to questions of homosexuality, gender equality and human rights issues, I wondered if religion, which has been the obstacle in many western nations such as America and England in allowing the advancement of their governments towards a more accepting society.
The first very important thing to consider is the separation of church and state, which is not something present in Saudi Arabia. Prominent diplomats of the country saying that atheism should be treated like terrorism isn’t interpreted as controversial in Saudi Arabia, as the entire council to the monarchy is muslim. It is no secret that the region’s governments are all closely tied with religion including Israel, the only non-muslim majority state in the area. However, if we look at the case of Canada and more precisely Quebec, the large muslim communities from the Maghreb and the Middle-East don’t tip the scale against civil rights’ advancements. According to Metro, for the large muslim population of Quebec, 72% of Quebec citizens support the LGBT community. We can therefore determine that religion, and more precisely Islam in this case is not the responsible but rather a belligerent of the problem which is a religious state itself.
In Saudi Arabia, as mentioned before, the heir to the throne of Al Saud is his son, who sees Saudi Arabia’s future as being one of a more “progressive” nation. His Vision 2030 plan includes entire passages in which he explains that the economy will not be able to live on oil forever and that the next generation of Saudi leaders will have to challenge the changes the global economy will see in the next few decades. Mohammed Al-Saud, a practicing muslim and monarch of the middle-east thus is claiming that his nation must embark on the world stage and that is good news for Saudi Arabia.
In conclusion, we can assume that religion has a part in the stagnant advances on civil rights issues in the middle-east and more precisely in this case, in Saudi Arabia. Though the region is still facing growing challenges in their economy, the bright future of the oil supergiant might be a bright one, though it will come slowly.