Article 12 and Criminalizing Discrimination - 4 / 5 / 2015 - 2:08 pm

Ali Al-Sharaymi
May, 1, 2015
Al-Waten Newspaper

I am very pleased with the firm actions taken by the Saudi leadership on racism. The state shows strong desire to stand against any sectarian or tribal behaviors.

The Minister of Defense ordered investigating the officer who threatened to kill citizens of Qatif for belonging to another doctrine whereas the Minster of Education ordered investigating the reasons behind transforming a teacher for sectarian reasons.

There is no doubt that these measures came as a reaction to King Salman instructions. He stressed on his speech on March 10, 2015 the importance of national unity and equality among citizens through the following:

1: “Every Saudi citizen and every part of Saudi Arabia is a priority for me; there are no differences between citizens or between regions”

2: “we are keen to combat causes of division and eliminate discrimination and any practices may detriment national unity, finally citizens are equal in rights and duties”.

3: “The media plays a major role in supporting these efforts by giving space to free expression, delivering facts and avoiding highlighting anything that may cause division among the state’s minorities; the media bears a responsibility to strengthen tolerance, coexistence and national unity”.

Strengthening national unity depends on issuing a law criminalizing any advocacy of hatred. I focus particularly on the Article 12 of the Basic Law which stated that “reinforcement of national unity is a national duty and the state condemns any incitement which may lead to sedition and division".

The Basic Law which was issued on 1991 is considered the most prominent feature of the political and social development in Saudi Arabia.

After 24 years since the issuance of the Basic Law, we have to continue this development process.
Article 12 must guarantee that “citizens are equal before the law, equal in rights and duties regardless of their affiliations or any other reason”.

Consider discrimination and incitement of hatred punishable crimes. Furthermore, the state must be obliged to take adequate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination.  The law should also establish an independent Commission for this purpose.

Over the past years we called on shura Council to enact a law enhancing national unity and criminalizing various forms of racism, but nothing has been done.