Apartheid, Saudi style
Michael FreundMichael Freund served as Deputy Communications Director in the Israeli...
Just imagine the international outcry that would ensue if Israel were to declare Jerusalem and Tel Aviv off-limits to anyone but Jews.
Or if Italy were to close off Rome to anyone who isn't a member of the Catholic Church.
One can only begin to imagine the fury that would erupt, as the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post would no doubt lead the charge against such rancid acts of ethnic and religious discrimination.
And yet - it is precisely this kind of prejudice that is being practiced in Saudi Arabia on a daily basis, where Wahabi apartheid bars entry to "infidels" to places such as Mecca and Medina, as I note in the news item I wrote below that appears in today's Jerusalem Post.
Interestingly enough, I checked the US State Department's annual country reports on human rights and religious freedoms, and neither of them even mentions the Saudis' outrageous state-sanctioned policy of segregation.
And these, of course, are the very same Saudis being touted as "moderates" and "allies" of the US and the West. What sheer and utter hypocrisy.
The Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2007
Saudis Arrest Christian for Entering Mecca
By Michael Freund
Saudi officials have arrested a man in Mecca for being a Christian, saying that the city, which Muslims consider to be holy, is off-limits to non-Muslims.
Nirosh Kamanda, a Sri Lankan Christian, was detained by the Saudi Expatriates Monitoring Committee last week after he started to sell goods outside Mecca's Great Mosque.
After running his fingerprints through a new security system, Saudi police discovered that he was a Christian who had arrived in the country six months earlier to take a job as a truck driver in the city of Dammam. Kamanda had subsequently left his place of work and moved to Mecca.
"The Grand Mosque and the holy city are forbidden to non-Muslims," Col. Suhail Matrafi, head of the department of Expatriates Affairs in Mecca, told the Saudi daily Arab News. "The new fingerprints system is very helpful and will help us a lot to discover the identity of a lot of criminals," he said.
Similar restrictions apply to the Saudi city of Medina. In a section entitled, "Traveler's Information," the Web site of the Saudi Embassy in Washington states that, "Mecca and Medina hold special religious significance and only persons of the Islamic faith are allowed entry."
Highway signs at the entrance to Mecca also direct non-Muslims away from the city's environs.