Saudi Arabia deprives international schools of non-Islamic holidays

The Saudi education ministry has issued a decree that bans expatriate schools from reporting non-Islamic events and holding non-Muslim holidays like Easter, Christmas or New Year, relays the London-based Liberal Pan-Arab Qatari newspaper The New Arab, a media that tries to counterbalance Al Jazeera, close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Lhe Government of King Salman reneged on the authorization granted to international schools to release their pupils for the Christmas and Easter holidays. Moreover, they no longer have the right to modify the dates of the exams to prevent them from coinciding with non-Islamic holidays. Any school that does not respect the decree would have its permit revoked.

Schools for the children of expatriates were authorized

Saudi public schools only report Islamic holidays, but in this country, where non-Muslims are only allowed to worship in secret - with the risk of interference from the law, however. Muttawa, the religious police - schools for the children of expatriates, workers recruited by national or foreign companies and diplomatic personnel, were authorized.

The country needs these expatriates, but denies them cultural and religious rights

According to figures released by the Saudi Department of Statistics and Information last February, expatriates last year numbered 10,4 million out of a total population of 31,52 million in the kingdom. The majority of foreign workers are from Muslim countries, and as far as the West is concerned, there are said to be around 100 expatriates. The most numerous foreign population coming from a Christian or historically Christian country is the Filipino community; a 2006 United Nations report put forward the number of 500, mentioning however that there could be 000. Schools for expatriates however mainly concern Westerners.

Shia Muslim students are also denied the right to skip classes to celebrate the Ashura feast during which they commemorate the massacre of Imam Hossein and his family by Umayyads, and the persecution and discrimination suffered by their community. The Wahhabi regime, which defends a rigorous Sunni Islam, opposes Shia Iran, but also relegates its own Shiites to the margins of Saudi life. They represent between 10 and 15% of the population.

Saudi Arabia has chosen absolute Sharia law

Saudi Arabia has chosen Sharia law, and the Constitution of the Kingdom provides in its article 23: “The state protects the Islamic faith and applies Islamic Sharia law. The State imposes good and fights evil; he fulfills the duties to which Islam calls him. For Riyadh, divine law is not only superior to that of men, but does not accept its dissent.

In December 2012, religious police arrested 41 Christians for plotting to celebrate Christmas. Among the other guests of the Asian diplomat who organized the private party were two Muslims, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian, according to Lebanese media. Al-Akhbar. The host and the two Muslims were described as "seriously intoxicated". A year later, the Muttawa warned that she would ensure that that no shopkeeper sells flowers or cuddly toys on the occasion of the New Year.

Hans-Søren Dag

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