Civil liberties in Saudi Arabia
Anthony Goreczny, Opinion Editor
October 30, 2011
Filed under Opinion
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has recently announced that Saudi women now have the right to vote and hold public office in municipal level elections. This is a great step forward for the equality of women in Saudi Arabia, however, caution is necessary in making changes to an intricate culture. I support the social progress in Saudi Arabia and believe that continued progress is paramount while accepting that fact that social progression is a slow process that takes many years.
Many people across the world are experiencing civil liberties these days that were historically never afforded in their country of residence. This change has caused the populations of other countries to desire these same “natural rights.” Natural rights are defined by John Locke as the right to life, liberty, and property. Saudi Arabia is one of many countries that have been making recent steps towards civil liberty for all.
America must be cautious of forcing our views of individual liberty and personal freedom for all upon other countries without considering the political and cultural ramifications. America is the most ethnocentric country in the world and many citizens are woefully ignorant of or simply lack respect for the cultures of other nations.
In the same way we feel it is odd that China and other countries eat dog as an everyday source of meat, many Indians, particularly those that practice Hinduism, view the cow as a holy animal. They find it hard to comprehend the massive amount of beef that Americans consume every year. According to IndiaDivine.org there are only two Indian states in which it is not illegal to slaughter a cow.
Americans must be mindful of these cultural differences when supporting social change. Are there women in India that would like the right to drive? Yes, and some have even taken to driving illegally as a means of protest. This does not mean that all women feel this way though. There are still many women who wish to stick true to the values taught by the culture and religion that they have believed in since childhood.
Conversely women arguing for the right to vote in India are not bikini wearing strippers who just want to drive themselves to the club every night. The vast majority of them are average citizens who are teachers and seamstresses and other vital constituents of society. They wear traditional Saudi clothing and observe the other laws of the culture because their culture is a part of who they are.
Though I support equal right for all, I do not believe that the United States should interfere with the civil issues that Saudi Arabia and other countries are confronting, and will confront in the present and future. This is an issue to be decided by the Saudi government and its partisans. No other county interfered with our civil rights movements, and we have no right to interfere with anyone else’s.