Prominent Saudis dismissed U.S. accusations of severe violations of religious freedom in the kingdom and said on Thursday that the criticisms were politically motivated.
Government officials were not immediately available over the Muslim weekend to respond to Washington’s decision to put Saudi Arabia on a blacklist of countries of “particular concern” in an annual report on Wednesday tracking religious freedom worldwide.
But the move was met with skepticism by many in the kingdom, whose close alliance with the United States has come under increasing strain in the last three years and become an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. “I can’t say Saudi Arabia is the freest country. But it is the cradle of Islam. Are they proposing to have churches or synagogues or Buddhist temples here?” said Abdulaziz al-Fayez, a member of Saudi Arabia’s consultative Shura Council.
“All Saudis are Muslims and this is a Muslim state.”
Well, that settles that. Oh wait… there’s more:
Saudi Arabia’s minority Shi’ite Muslims have long complained of second-class treatment in the Sunni-dominated country. Human rights groups also say many of the 6 million expatriate workers are prevented from practicing their religion.
UPDATE: In the spirit of the above sentiment, I would like to wish each and every reader a happy Constitution Day.