Sheikh Hasan al-Saffar, one of the main Shiite leaders in the country, told Arab News that he is expecting a meaningful change to come in a slow, deliberate matter, because that is how the Saudi policy works. Al-Saffar was talking in the presence of Mohsen al-Awajy, a Sunni scholar from Riyadh, who agreed with al-Saffar.
Al-Saffar could be right. However, I don’t think it is supposed to be this way. We need to move now, and we need to move fast. We need a democratic reform, where Shiites and other minorities (or call them ‘madahib’ if you want) can have their rights naturally. If we have democracy, all minorities will gain their rights, and they don’t have to get their rights given to them by somebody.
“Some of the followers of certain Islamic schools, however, complain of abuses of their religious rights as well as some of their civil rights,” al-Saffar said. He attributed these abuses to “inaccurate practices from certain parties who monopolize religious representation to them and want to cancel the others’ (representation).”
Al-Awajy has ignored admitting there was discrimination, and thinks we all should forget about the past. “Start anew, and assure all citizens their rights,” he said. Sounds fair enough? OK, how about this: Give them their rights first, and then they can think about forgetting the past and all the suffering.
In his first speech, King Abdullah vowed justice for all. Does this mean stopping all kinds of discrimination in the country? I’m looking forward to this, but I’m trying to keep my expectations low. Change is coming, but the question is: how long it would take to come?