Human Rights And The Expatriate: The Basis Of Justice, Consultation And Equality In Saudi Arabia
10 April 2016
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
CUSTODIAN of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman emphasized the Kingdom's
unflinching commitment in protecting human rights in line with the Islamic
Shariah. He was speaking before an audience that was attended by senior Saudi
human rights officials, which included the president of the Saudi Human Rights
Commission, the president of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), and
a number of senior officials and judiciary members some times back.
The King made it clear that no discrimination between citizens and residents
as far as the law of the land is concerned would be tolerated. ''The
foundation of the State is based on adherence to the Islamic Shariah, which
calls for the protection of human rights. The rule of our country was
established on the basis of justice, consultation and equality. The State's
systems are integrated into the protection of rights, achievement of justice,
guaranteeing freedom of expression, impartiality and addressing the causes and
reasons of division,'' he said. ''All citizens are equal in rights and duties,
and the Basic Governing Law states that the State shall protect human rights
in line with the Islamic Shariah.''
The King added that the Saudi judiciary was in the forefront of the government
bodies concerned with the protection and privilege of human rights. ''The
Kingdom's regulations have emphasized the independence of the judiciary that
guarantees justice for all citizens and residents. Out of keenness to protect
human rights within the framework of the Islamic Shariah, the State has
established the Human Rights Commission,'' he said.
His candid statements were music to the ears of many expatriates who have felt
that they were often at the receiving end of all ills befalling the Kingdom.
One such resident said ''I really appreciate the statement of the King of
Muslim world in these hard times. Islam and the teachings of last Prophet (pbuh)
does not teach discrimination. As long as we follow the teachings of our
beloved Prophet (pbuh) we can live in peace and prosperity.''
A Saudi-born expatriate added, ''We, the expat children born and raised in the
Kingdom, have the strongest bonds with the Kingdom. For us the Kingdom is home
as we have spent our entire lives here. We, the children of this Kingdom, have
a hope that one day we can be called citizens of this country! The King's
statements give us a glimmer of hope. Long live the Kingdom, long live our
King Salman! This really would be a dream come true!''
The Saudi media over the years had not been overwhelmingly kind to the
presence of the expatriates in this land, and had often generalized them as
money-hungry carpetbaggers or worse yet criminals, an unfair tag maligning
countless generations of expatriates who have unflinchingly submitted their
body, sweat and blood towards the building of the country.
Such allegations are far from the truth. The reality is that millions have
come and gone, and millions remain among us today, some alone and distant from
their families, tasked with the duties of helping make this country run. Many
perform to the expectations required, mostly in silence. Their isolation and
loneliness in a land different than their own cannot be simply compensated by
the riyals they earn. Leaving behind fathers and mother, brothers and sisters,
wives and children, these foreign expatriates who reside amongst us ask little
of us as they fulfill their duties. And yet they love and feel like the rest
of us; the joys and pains that course through our emotions are not alien to
Rather than attack them, abuse, or deprive them of their rights, let us honor
them like we honor our own. Let us bestow upon them our thanks and well wishes
as we do upon those near and dear to us. Let us thank expatriates of all
faiths for the difficult sacrifices they are making daily in leaving their
loved ones behind and coming to this country to help us all make it a better
place. They move around us, shadows in the background. Yet they continue in
their toils, expecting very little thanks or gratitude from their hosts while
putting in an honest day's work.
The King's message was very clear and covered this segment of residents of the
land. Let us begin by ensuring that their rights are protected and dispensed
with in the manner and spirit that Islam has roused in us.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, ''The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the
all-Merciful (Allah). Be merciful to those on Earth, Allah will be merciful to
you. … Allah will continue to help the servant as long as the servant is
helping his brother.''
This compassion extends to our obligations to our guest workers and the
protection of their rights.
— The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena