by Iqbal Jassat
Saturday September 09, 2017
The Bani Saud will expectedly be quite pleased with themselves that this year’s Hajj has concluded without any setbacks or hitches worth reporting.
In fact they will cynically pat themselves on the back that in addition to a smooth incident-free event, the large team of bureaucrats that included intelligence and security forces, ensured that the confinement of Hajj to a spiritual ritual did not stray into “other” areas.
The “other” being politics. The Saudi regime has for the last four decades - especially following Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah from power - clamped down on anyone deviating from its interpretation and practice of Hajj.
Emptying the rituals of any socio-political significance, underwritten by state-sponsored court ulama (scholars), has characterized the nervousness of the ruling family.
On guard to prevent any threat to its reign, the Saudi regime has not only barred millions of pilgrims from discussing or planning campaigns intended to seek and secure justice for oppressed people; it has adopted a tougher stance against its own population.
To question the Najdi Bedouins’ peculiar view of Islam means literally courting arrest, detention and death. Thousands of dissidents—according to one estimate 40,000—languish in Saudi dungeons for having displayed their courageous opposition.
Admittedly, a major part of the dissidents’ disquiet centers on the abuse of power by the unelected “royalty”. It has to do with the “crime” of demanding accountability, human rights, freedom and justice.
But oblivious to legitimate concerns of the population, the Saudi monarchy continues behaving as all rogue regimes do. It is a luxury they can afford knowing that big brother America has their back. And the same can be said of Israel’s secret security arrangements that allow the royal family to conduct questionable policies.
Since social media has been abuzz with pictures and selfies by pilgrims, one wonders whether the irony of stoning devils at the culmination of Hajj, dawned on the millions while the self-proclaimed “custodians” have been stoning Yemen via bombs and missiles?
The same can be said about Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, given that the ridiculous demands made on Qatar by the monarchy in respect of support and aid for the Resistance has been shocking.
Likewise, the merciless repression of Muslim Rohingya by the brutal Myanmar regime, which has been going on since the 1980s, but has currently reached genocidal proportions, has apparently been swept under the carpet.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a conglomeration of oligarchs, set up as a security institution ostensibly to counter Iran’s footprint in the region, has acquired a hallowed status outstripping the sanctity of the noble sanctuaries in Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem.
Kingpins of the GCC are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. All unelected despots who regard Israel as a guarantor of their freedom to suppress human rights, thus unable to issue the slightest squeak in defense of Palestine.
Or if they do, it is no more than a knee jerk reaction, knowing that Israel allows them the space to bluff themselves and their faithful sycophants around the world.
Spending billions of dollars on sophisticated military hardware but remaining unmoved in the face of the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, is simply shocking. Yet these weapons of mass destruction have and are being deployed to waste Yemen.
If Hajj remains an empty ritual as designed and forcefully imposed by the Saudi regime, neither the Yemeni nor the Rohingya have any hope that if their suffering persists, the multitude of pilgrims from every nook and corner of the world will be able to mobilize in defense of their rights.
Indeed for all oppressed
(Iqbal Jassat is Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa)