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Saudi Arabia just declared homosexuality, feminism and atheism as ‘extremism’

Emma Powys Maurice November 12, 2019
saudi arabia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with then-Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow in 2017. (PAVEL GOLOVKIN/AFP/Getty)

Homosexuality, feminism and atheism are classed as extremist ideas in Saudi Arabia, according to the country’s Security Agency.

The claims were made this weekend in an official promotional video posted by the verified Twitter account of Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of State Security, but this now appears to have been deleted.

According to Reuters, the video listed homosexuality, feminism and atheism as takfir – the Islamist militant practice of labelling followers of other schools of Islam unbelievers.

“Don’t forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered extremism,” said the video’s voiceover, adding that “all forms of extremism and perversion are unacceptable”.

Homosexuality and atheism have long been illegal and punishable by death in the absolute monarchy, and the country is considered to have one of the worst LGBT+ rights records in the world.

The law punishes acts of homosexuality or cross-dressing with fines, public whipping, beatings, vigilante attacks, chemical castrations, life imprisonment, capital punishment and torture.

Even supporting groups classified as extremist organisations can lead to imprisonment, which immediately puts any activists at risk.

However, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is beginning to impose a more moderate form of Islam, admitting that the ultra-conservative state had been “not normal” for the past 30 years.

Saudi women cross a street in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty)

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.

“After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”

The Crown Prince has begun breaking down many of Saudi Arabia’s societal taboos, rescinding the ban on women driving and scaling back guardianship laws that restrict women’s roles.

The latest video is seemingly at odds with the conservative Muslim kingdom’s bid to promote tolerance and attract foreigners.

 

 

 

More: atheism, criminalisation of homosexuality, feminism, Middle East, religious extremism, Saudi Arabia

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