Screenshot


How Saudis claim freedom

For his first official trip abroad, President Trump will be in Saudi Arabia this weekend, attending a dizzying number of public events. Yet much of his experience, like that of many other visitors, will be staged by the Saudi government – one that still limits basic freedoms for its people. If Mr. Trump were to visit a local bookstore, however, he might take note of a book that has been a top seller among Saudis for weeks, “The Art of Thinking Clearly.”

Written by Swiss entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli with tips for independence in thought, the book’s popularity speaks volumes about what Saudis want in a society long controlled by a monarchy and clerical authorities. Also popular in neighboring Iran, the book affirms a phenomenon that is essential to create a free society: The desire to think for oneself is the first step in removing any mental shackles imposed by an autocracy.

In recent years, Saudis have taken to Twitter to speak out against government – despite the threat of a public lashing if they go too far in criticizing the monarchy. Among Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of online TV watching. And as might be expected, much of the independent thinking comes from women, one of the most oppressed groups.

“Don’t speak in the name of the people,” wrote Nora Shanar in the Saudi newspaper Elaph about recent government attempts to stage Western-style entertainment for young people. Tamador Alyami, a famous blogger, wrote this about a religious ban on women driving: “I’m calling on men to think for themselves, not to simply follow clerics, and for the government to act.”

Much of what is written in the Western press about change in Saudi Arabia assumes that it comes from the top and is driven by the need to adjust to low prices for Saudi oil exports and to reduce spending. Indeed, a powerful prince, Mohammed bin Salman, issued a plan last year called Vision 2030 that aims to create a non-oil economy and to loosen up on some social restrictions. But his plan is widely seen as a way for Saudi royalty to stay one step ahead of the country’s restless youth. More than 60 percent of the population is under 30 years old.

Societies that encourage people to think for themselves do so because they know truth cannot be imposed. It must be discovered and nurtured in each person’s thinking. When leaders don’t yet understand that, their people will seek out books and other ways to claim their mental autonomy.

Related stories

Read this story at csmonitor.com

Become a part of the Monitor community

Views: 29
Author: Regular Articles
Tell a friend
Average rating:
(0 votes)

Buy Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) Stock Ahead of Q2 Earnings

Copper producer Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) is set to report second-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings results ahead of Tuesday’s opening bell. Thanks to efforts to trim its massive debt, the... Read More

Is the Clock Running out on Freeport-Mcmoran Inc (FCX)?

With Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) preparing to release second-quarter results on Tuesday, July 25, Berenberg analyst Fawzi Hanano is out with a bearish forecast. Hanano opined, "Freeport has... Read More

Freeport Indonesia mine workers extend strike for fourth month

JAKARTA/TORONTO (Reuters) - An estimated 5,000 workers at the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (FCX.N) Indonesian unit will extend their strike for a fourth month, a... Read More

Texas Pastor Asks For Prayers and a Miracle While Wife and Newborn Fight for Their Lives

The internet is responding in a BIG way. Read More

This Mom Freaked Out During a New Kids on the Block Concert and the Photos Are Hilarious

Can you blame her? It's NKOTB! Read More

How to Make Lightened Up Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Because there’s no greater dessert combo than peanut butter and chocolate, we created these healthier peanut butter kiss cookies that are low in fat and calories, and still totally tasty. Watch the... Read More

'James Bond 25' Gets 2019 Release Date

No word yet on whether or not Daniel Craig will be back as 007 for a fifth time; film’s cast, director, more details will be announced at a later date Read More

Olivia Munn Talks About Her Experience Making — and Meeting — 'The Predator'

Actress at Comic-Con says meeting the monster was 'a visceral experience' and the film will stand on its own while also harking back to its predecessors Read More

'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets': What's the Deal With the Doghan Daigus?

'Valerian' director Luc Besson tells Yahoo Movies about making the Doghan Daigus, standout alien creatures in the movie that look like ducks, sell info Read More

Democrats hope ‘better deal’ message will resonate

Congressional Democrats rolled out their message for the 2018 midterm elections Monday, vowing to focus on raising wages and creating jobs as they vie to reclaim majorities in the House and Senate.... Read More

Jared Kushner and the politics of nepotism

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner arrives to speak to the media outside the West Wing on July 24, 2017. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s trusted senior aide and son-in-law, will be questioned... Read More

Alabama Senate candidate uses tape of congressional shooting in campaign ad

The campaign of a Republican congressman running for the Senate, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, is being denounced after releasing an ad Monday that uses audio from a shooting that targeted GOP... Read More

Hot new job for middle-class students: manual labor

Hunched over their workspaces in a dusty, sunlit room in the North Bennett Street School in Boston’s North End, Jim Reid-Cunningham’s bookbinding workshop seems grateful for an interruption. “It’s... Read More

How do refugee students make the jump to Germany's universities?

Mohamad Taqi Sohrabi has had to fight for an education his entire life. An Afghan refugee born in Iran, Mr. Sohrabi says it wasn’t easy for him to go to school. Sohrabi was eventually able to... Read More

In Ethiopia, model drought defenses are put to the test

Battered by drought and civil wars, more than 20 million people from Yemen to Tanzania are at risk of starvation in what aid workers call the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. But... Read More