In Saudi Arabia: The Legitimate Contract of Allegiance To Rulers Has Requirements.
Dear Fellow Citizens: Let Us Demand The Allegiance Conditions.
Signatures began: Monday, 18 June 2012.
1- All authoritarian rule is illegitimate, even more so when it is an apartheid and despotic regime.
An authoritarian ruler is one who lacks a legitimate claim to power, i.e. disregards the requirement of consultation (Shura), and violates the legitimate role of a ruler as being just. Any rule that does not involve consultation with constituents is illegitimate and goes against the prophet's tradition. This illegitimate authoritarian rulers use the phrase "Islam is our constitution", and they are either unaware of its meaning or they purposefully use it in order to fool people by using religion. Legitimate Allegiance (Bay'ah) in Islam is between the people and their ruler. This contract delegates power to the ruler and is meant to be representative in nature, so that the people choose whom they see fit to rule. This contract is also meant to assure rights and obligations, without the people forfeiting their will. Rather, it is a mere delegation of responsibility to preserve the country and the faith, the power delegated to do so ought to be at the most minimum of levels. Thus, the ruler is responsible for and to the people, rather than the people being the ruler's livestock and property that is inherited continuously by the ruler's family.
The contract of allegiance's first requirement is choice. Since contracts cannot be forced and must be based on mutual consent of both contracting sides, similar to a handshake on a deal that indicates mutual agreement. The contract of allegiance's second requirement is that the agreement not be limited to a group of clerics, whom the government itself appoints and then claims it is legitimate in its choice of allegiance to it. Instead, the oath of allegiance ought to be reviewed by a council of representatives formed from the general public. The contract of allegiance's third requirement is that the elected ruler be just, since justice and fairness are the central qualifications in governance. This is because the role of the governing power is to preserve rights, and how could an unjust ruler justly preserve rights of his citizens?
2- Thirty proofs that the Saudi regime is not only authoritarian, but also apartheid. And thus blatantly violates the contract of allegiance.
A) Every ruler that denies political rights rules against the people's will.
Since the formation of Saudi Arabia, particularly after the Gulf War of 1990, human rights activists and democracy supporters have claimed that no social justice can exist under a politically repressive regime. However, as they increased their demands for change, the regime only grew in its stubbornness.
The Saudi government, in its three stages, although it began with the sword and knife, could not finally form without consensual agreements. For this reason, King Abdulaziz was able to unify the Kingdom in less than 40 years, whereas his grandfather had lost in Dham Ibn Dawas and attempted to conquer Riyadh for 40 years. Historical evidence of this fact is found in the documents of agreement between King Abdulaziz and citizens in several provinces in Arabia, such as Hejaz, Hassa, the South, Onaiza, Buraidah, and al-Jouf.
But a ruler can soon become authoritarian when the following takes place:
1. The Saudi government denies the principle that the oath of allegiance, because allegiance is a type of social contract in which consultation is required, as legitimacy only stems from the people. The Saudi government has reversed the principle in that it claims to "know what's best" for the people, rather than simply a delegated government responsible to their will and interests. This is apparent in its rules of governance and judiciary, which assign the King as the source of power behind authorities.
2. As a result, the Saudi government has entered wars, alliances, and treaties, without the consent of delegated representatives of the people.
3. Violation of the "just" requirement in the King. For instance, when Prince Nayef was named Crown Prince in preparation of his assuming the throne, despite is insistence on torture and unfair treatment in jails.
4. Refusing the people's exercise of their power, such as the formation of civil society organizations, a representative council, a corruption monitor of authorities, and political parties (e.g. the oppressive response towards members of the Islamic Ummah Party).
5. The Saudi government claims the sword is its legitimacy, yet claims political violence is illegitimate force against the ruler, although the ruler himself states he had used the same method in gaining his power. It is a strange contradiction to claim the Saudi King rose to power by force, and yet objects to any political force for change used against him. Any government that makes peaceful change impossible loses legitimacy, because such oppression violates the contract of allegiance. As the past US president, John Kennedy, said, "any government that makes peaceful change impossible, makes revolutionary change inevitable".
6. The Saudi government, along with its clerics, adopts ultraconservative religious rhetoric and demonizes all other religious groups and encourages sectarian strife, which is a natural result of political oppression and religious exclusion, as political sociologist Max Weber had observed of mass orientation and herd mentality, as well as Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
B) The Saudi government is not only authoritarian, but also a racist apartheid system.
Like the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Saudi regime defines itself as the royal family that rules over the land and its people, forming an exclusive class that is dependent on tribal ties. This, in itself, is the largest evidence of discrimination.
Other examples of discrimination is as follows:
1. All political decisions and regulations are administered by a select group of princes, without any consultation of the people.
2. Governmental positions and high ranks are given to more than a hundred princes, with each appointing his own loyalists, which is a blatant rejects of the principle of appointment based on the most fit and a denial of equal opportunity.
3. This elite class consumes the money of the people, their possessions, and lands. Either directly, as some land deeds have reached 80 million square meter, or indirectly through ambiguous governmental contracts. These royal elites act as though they were of angelic caliber, in that none can hold them accountable for their actions. They are never questioned.
4. The exclusive security and protection services provided to the royal family, based on their royalty, rather than as governmental workers. They also live in elaborate mansions, and receive privileged benefits in schooling and hospitals. They are also excused from general regulations, like customs, searches, traffic laws, and they are not tried before normal courts, nor are they subjected to the general judiciary. In fact, it has not been proved that any royal members have been convicted of anything in more than a hundred years.
C) Corruption of society and transforming academic and religious education using more than 30 tools in intimidating citizens and accustoming them to submission. Security services are often used by the regime against the people, rather than for them, with some of the following methods:
1. Secret police infiltrates all areas of people's lives, in their homes, mosques, schools, universities, as well as in the traffic police, religious police, and judicial system to fabricate charges against human rights and political activists.
2. The extralegal restriction of travel on activists and threats of unjust jail sentences
3. Mosques have become government circles where the Imams are chosen by the government even in the smallest of towns. The loyalties of Imams are bought for the government's interest through monthly salaries and free homes. The Imams then all participate in teaching their followers to adhere to the ruler and be patient when the government unjustly treats them. They frame it as a religious duty of citizens to give up their rights and obey their ruler, even if he steals their possessions and lashes their backs. They use distorted narrations in support of this while ignoring the many other Islamic teachings that claim a people's right to representative political regime.
4. Violations of women's civil and social rights, claiming that it is of Islam to deprive women of their rights.
5. Institutionalized ultraconservative education that violations of tolerance, diversity, lacks any form of citizenship-identity building, and encourages narrow-mindedness and demonize concepts such as human rights and civil society.
6. Utilizing the media in all its forms to encourage submission to the regime, rather than holding it accountable for its faults.
7. Rewriting Saudi Arabia's history in school's curricula in such a way that places the authoritarian form of government that persists today in a good light, as well as redefining citizenship to mean full and unquestioned submission to the royal family.
8. Even the names of streets, universities, and historical locations, are all named after the royal family.
D) Loss of citizen rights due to weak protection in laws and the judicial system
1. The Saudi regime applies apartheid system its application of law, since those of high position are never held accountable, while the weak are quickly convicted. An example of this is the case of those accused in infrastructural corruption that led to the Jeddah flooding disaster in December 2009.
2. Since the elite protection services are given to the regime, the safety of citizens is widely disregarded. Crimes like theft and kidnapping are on rise, forcing house doors to be made of metal, windows covered with protective bars, and tall walls to be built around the property. The lack of governmental protection leaves citizens alone in protecting their homes using such methods, often making them end up looking like prisons.
3. The judicial system has, over the years, become simply another arm of the regime. Rather than applying just and fair law vis-à-vis human rights and democracy activists like the "Jeddah group", the Saudi court sentenced them to harsh prison terms.
4. The judicial system lacks independence, it is nothing more than an applier of the actual judges' desires, the actual judges being the members of the regime, in its convictions of dissidents and human rights activists.
E) When scare tactics fail, jails become centers for brainwash, torture, intimidation, diseases, and mental illnesses, using the following methods:
1. The Saudi despotic regime has been using the global war on terror to crack down on political rights activists. As a result, regime’s political jails are of the largest, with no less than a hundred thousand in-and-out prisoners since the 1990 Gulf War, without abiding by legal regulations, allowing for outside observers, and refusing to state official numbers of political prisoners in Saudi jails.
2. Arbitrary arrests, death by torture, assassination, extrajudicial executions (e.g. Saudi radicals who ceased the grand mosque in Makah in late 1979, aka Juhimman al-Otaibi’s followers).
3. Prison purposes have turned into torture centers and interrogations that resemble institutionalized intimidation tactics, to the point of causing dissidents to be mentally disturbed.
4. Reports submitted by human rights activists regarding torture in prisons are ignored and the accused torturers are not taken to court or investigated further.
F) The Saudi regime chose a selected group of clerics and called them “seniors”, turning them into partners in the contract of allegiance, with total disregard for the will of the people.
The Saudi regime has gone too far in falsifying the popular will and religion together, and breaching allegiance condition: consultation of constituencies. The regime formed a group of clerics, assimilated in the culture of despotism, in a commission calling them the “senior clerics” in the country first. Secondly, the Saudi regime considered these “senior clerics” as true constituents who must be consulted instead of the people. Hence, there is no need for votes nor referendums by the people because these “senior clerics” are the “signatories on behalf the Lord.”
Evidence that the group of clerics have been used as substitute to the will of the people:
1. Historically, the country was formed on an agreement between a political figure and a religious cleric to form the current class of rulers: Princes and clerics.
2. Decisions regarding entering regional wars were made between these two parties (i.e., princes and clerics), affirming the fact that the Saudi regime perceives “senior clerics” to be the only relevant signatories in the contract of allegiance.
3. Utilizing the “senior clerics” as a religious shield against dissidents and their demands, such as the case of defunct Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) in 1993.
4. Religious opinions administered by the “senior clerics” that discouraged public speech regarding the government to be a form of religious dissent and ought to be oppressed, including protests and sit-ins.
5. The judiciary adheres to the senior clerics’ opinions, since they claim themselves to be personifying divine law. This leads to the judiciary overlooking cases of torture, and permitting forced confessions in court.
Additional evidence is the fact that the “senior clerics” gave their blessings to Prince Nayef's appointment to Crown Prince, so much so that he was named "Lion of the Sunnah". This only confirms the group of senior clerics is used in place of an official oath of allegiance given by the people. It is time that the Saudi regime realizes, as the Turkish saying states, "beware of the anger of the calm and the kick of the obedient animal".
3- We called for a new social contract to change the current apartheid regime to a constitutional monarchy that answers to the will of the people
The original contract between Mohammed bin Abdulwahhab and Mohammed bin Saud had its special circumstances, when they had attempted to form a government in the barren desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The later expansion to a contract between a group of princes and clerics (the duality) was also practical for a time. However, today, the people are in need of a new social contract, one between the reformed Saudi regime and free people.
This can only be done through a constitutional governance that draws its legitemacy from the people. The government must be elected, representative of the people's will, and held accountable to them alone.
The new social contract would be based on the following principles:
1. Limiting the Committee of Allegiance's role to be suggestive, leaving the people as the final decision makers in who is fit for their allegiance. This means every prince who has instilled fear in their people will be excluded, as well as every prince who has remained silent before injustices in prisons and refused to be tried in court when accused.
Thus, the country would not be inherited through generations of the royal family. Instead, it would be in the hands of elected representatives of the people who would operate through democracy. And the laws regarding the Committee of Allegiance must be changed to incorporate the following four points:
a. The royal family nominates more than one candidate for the position of Crown Prince.
b. The King offers his own endorsement for one of the candidates.
c. The elected representatives of the parliament chooses which candidate to give its allegiance to.
d. The following points are to be included in a written constitution that is open to the people and cannot be kept secret and operated behind the scenes by the royal family.
2. Allegiance cannot be given to any ruler who violates the requirement of the contract of allegiance: upholding a democratic government that is responsible to the people.
3. Allegiance is only to be given to one King. The royal family must realize that multiple Kings cannot all be supervised and held accountable, and for this reason only one will be given allegiance to at a time.
4. For this reason, the royal family must find the positions of the King and crown prince to be sufficient, and not hold any other governmental positions.
5. Permit the formation of political parties.
6. Permit the formation of an elected parliament from the general public, both men and women.
7. Permit electoral competition between political parties for positions in parliament.
8. The King is to appoint the head of the winning political party as the prime minister, in order to assure that the council of ministers is scrutinized by the people.
9. The people are to practice their will also through the formation of civil organizations as well as cultural, political, social, economic, and professional community ties and movements.
10. Permit free speech, thought, association, protest, and peaceful sit-ins, to allow the people to peacefully express their interests.
11. Reforming the current “Senior Clerics Commission” to a civil elected group from general religious scholars, and considering their religious opinions to be strictly non-binding.
12. Empowering an independent judicial system according to international standards as practiced in constitutional countries.
13. Formation of a fact-finding committee that oversees the violations of the Ministry of Interior against human rights and holding the violators accountable in a court of law. Including those who commit crimes against humanity and support the spread terror and extremism in religious rhetoric.
14. Aiming for an agreement between political reformers and the government in order to form an elected general committee, with no less than 30 members from all areas of Saudi Arabia, in order to draft the country's new constitution that will be then be subject to a vote by the general population.
4- A call to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the royal family
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
The Saudi regime claims its dedication to Islam in persistently saying, "our constitution is Islam", and this is acceptable. But such a claim cannot be void of meaning; there are requirements and procedures that must be carried out in order to assure it is upheld.
The current authoritarian government in Saudi Arabia today, however, is proof that Islam is far from being used as its constitution. You had announced you would strike oppression with the sword of justice, yet where is this sword of justice?
The mounts of oppression cannot be lifted without real political and institutional reform. For this reason, the below signatories state their demand for a democracy-based constitutional monarchy. If the royal family continues with its silence, the spread of oppression and corruption will force the country to explode. The violations of a just contract of allegiance have only been increasing; the people will be forced to aim for a democracy-based republic.
- We apologize that this document was not widely debated before its official release, as it was written under excruciatingly difficult and pressured circumstances.
- We ask that those wishing to sign have their identity confirmed first.
- This initiative is put forth by some members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and members of the Islamic-Constitution Group.
1] Ahmed Suleiman Ahmed al-Khudairy/Riyadh
2] Bader Ali Saud Thuwab/Merchant/Riyadh
3] Baker Ibrahim bin Ali al-Jony/Student of Islamic Jurisprudence/Makkah.
4] Husain Sa'ed bin Moadah al-Zaidy/Makkah
5] Saud Abdulaziz al-Dogaither/Riyadh
6] Suleiman Ibrahim al-Rashudy/Former Judge and Lawyer
7] Abdulrahman bin Jama'an al-Dosary/Former Police Investigator/Riyadh
8] Dr. Abdulrahman Hamed al-Hamed/Teacher of Islamic Economics at Technical College/al-Qassim
9] Abdulaziz Abdullah al-Tbayeb/Researchers and Masters student in Islamic Jurisprudence/al-Qassim
10] Abdulaziz Yousif bin Mohammed al-Shubaily/Self-employed and rights activist/Onaiza
11] Dr. Abdulkarim Yousif al-Khudir/Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at Qassim University
12] Dr. Abdullah al-Hamed /Former professor at Imam University/Riyadh
13] Abdullah Mohammed bin Hamad al-Saeed/Student of Islamic Jurisprudence/Qassim University.
14] Abdulmahsin Ali al-Aayshe/Sports coach/Riyadh
15] Omar Faraj bin Ahmed al-Faraj
16] Omar Mohammed bin Hammad al-Saeed/ Student of Islamic Jurisprudence/Qassim University.
17] Essa Hamed al-Hamed/Health specialist/Buraidah
18] Fowzan Mahsen al-Harbi/Riyadh
19] Dr. Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani/Professor of Political Economy/Riyadh.
20] Mikhlif Dham al-Shammari/Rights activist/al-Khobar
21] Houd Hamoud Saleh al-Aqeel/College student/al-Qassim.
22] Waleed Sami Mohammed Abu AlKhair/Head of Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia/Jeddah
23] Mamdouh Saa’ed al-Zaidy/College student/Makkah