How Saudis claim freedom

Error Saving Reaction

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: 48
0
0
0
Author: Regular Articles
Tell a friend
Average rating:
(0 votes)
Average rating from Reviews:
(0 votes)

Write a review

Reviews

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining, Golden Star Resources, Randgold Resources and Kinross Gold

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining, Golden Star Resources, Randgold Resources and Kinross Gold Read More

Gold Mining Stock Outlook - Sept. 2017

Gold Mining Stock Outlook - Sept. 2017 Read More

Why Freeport-McMoran (FCX) Stock Might be a Great Pick

Freeport-McMoran (FCX) is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is a great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective. Read More

Friend of slain Georgia Tech student: 'If Scout was more gender-conforming, would it have been different?'

Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student, was shot by campus police on Saturday night, and a protest two days later led to arrests. In the aftermath of those events, Yahoo Lifestyle talked to a friend... Read More

How to Make Healthy Leftover Turkey Tacos

These tacos get a healthy makeover by using turkey as the main lean protein. It all comes together with some beans, avocado, and a little cheese. Watch the video to learn how to make this easy... Read More

Little People, Big World's Audrey Roloff Just Gave Birth to Her First Child

It's a girl! Read More

Mel Brooks: ‘Blazing Saddles’ Would Never Be Made in Today’s ‘Stupidly Politically Correct’ Culture

“Blazing Saddles” may be a groundbreaking comedy, but director Mel Brooks doesn’t think Hollywood would make the iconic Western parody in this current “stupidly politically correct” climate. The... Read More

Box Office: 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Unseats 'It' as 'Lego Ninjago' Disappoints

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the new ruler of the box office. The sequel from Fox is expected to earn $39 million this weekend from 4,003 locations. That’s slightly below where tracking had... Read More

Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga’s ‘Star Is Born’ Moves to May 2018

Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” remake starring Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) and Bradley Cooper, who is also directing, is moving up its release to May 18, 2018. The pic was originally set to open... Read More

White House officials defend Trump, say athletes 'can do free speech on their own time'

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended Trump’s call for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be suspended or fired. “It’s not about free speech,” Mnucin said Sunday. “They can do... Read More

In wake of U.N. speech, Kim calls Trump a ‘dotard.’ Trump fires back at ‘madman.’

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have unleashed personal attacks on one another after the U.S. commander in chief’s speech at the United Nations. “Kim Jong Un of North Korea,... Read More

As Russia probe turns to fake Facebook ads, Trump follows with a tweet

President Trump continued his efforts to belittle accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Friday, turning to the latest set of charges, involving targeted political ads placed on... Read More

Reluctant champion: How Nadia Murad has become the international face of Yazidi suffering – and resilience

Weeks earlier, Nadia Murad had been ripped from her village by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters who murdered her family and took her captive. Along with other young Yazidi women, she was transported... Read More

Readers write: The work of downsizing, evidence of climate change, hopeful coverage on famine

Regarding the Aug. 21 Monitor Daily story “Home prices, and a thought shift, give ‘small living’ a boost”: Interesting concept. My friend has done it, downsizing and living in a tiny apartment.... Read More

Time for the world to step up on Rohingya issue, Aung San Suu Kyi’s astounding hypocrisy, Irma’s destruction in Britain’s Caribbean islands, The US should stop saber rattling, On the Nadal-Federer comeback

“It is high time the world made an all-out effort to stop the ongoing pogrom against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya...,” writes Mohammad Amjad Hossain. “The pogrom resembles those crimes perpetrated... Read More