Why Were the Saudi Streets So Quiet? by Medea Benjamin, by Medea Benjamin

President Trump didn’t have to contend with a single protestor on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia. From Medea Benjamin at antiwar.com:

With the world’s media focused on President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, it’s curious that the streets of Riyadh were so empty. Unlike most of Trump’s public appearances, there was not a protester in sight.

While Mexicans pour out on the streets to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, bashing Trump piñatas and burning U.S. flags, there was nary a Saudi protester chanting “Trump: Go home.” In this very religious country, no one seemed interested in demonstrating opposition to Trump’s derogatory comments about Islam nor his attempts to impose a Muslim ban back home.

Saudi women could have used the occasion to push for their rights. They could have put out a national call saying that as soon as Trump began to speak, women should walk out of their homes with their heads uncovered and dressed as they pleased, just like Melania and Ivanka Trump. They could have raised their arms in the air, waving the petition thousands of them signed calling for an end to the guardianship system that gives men control over their lives. They could have taken to the road behind the wheels of their family cars, openly defying the retrograde Saudi ban on women driving. But alas, there was not a Saudi woman in sight.

“Thanks to US weapons makers and arms deals signed with successive US presidents, the Saudi rulers have more firepower than they could ever need to put down any form of dissent.”
Where was the Shia minority who make up 10 percent of the population and suffer ongoing repression? Why didn’t they come out to call for the freedom of political prisoners, like the three young men on death row who were arrested as juveniles for protesting? The Saudi military is presently occupying the Shia town of Awamiyah, shooting at civilians and terrifying the townspeople. Yet there was not even graffiti on the streets of Riyadh saying “Military Out of Awamiyah.”

 

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