When you've got a country with a special police force for raiding florist shops on Valentine's Day, and it arrests Christians -- including children, and it throws bloggers into jail for simply stating that everyone should have access to free speech, and it has a crack squad of witch police to round up witches and people who use magic so they might be routinely beheaded, and said country claims to be tackling extremism -- well, it's really time to take notice at precisely what the hell they consider to be 'extremism!'
A recent story in the Saudi Gazette recounts how authorities in the Kingdom are meeting to explore how to protect schools from extremism -- which comes from education!
EXTREMISM, a pioneer school investor said, has unfortunately been a product of education. Therefore, he said, there must be a comprehensive pre-admission observation of individuals at pedagogical colleges which prepare them to be future teachers.
At first I thought they're just threatened by secular, freethought education (they are). However, they also seem to be talking about fundamentalist religion -- which is ironic because as a country, they are hard to beat on that department.
There is a trend now, said experts among youth. This trend, they said, has two extremes. While a group pushes toward extremism in religion, others push their extremism to atheism.
When it came to radical religion in education, I thought of the very real risk of religious extremist schools all over. Just last year, six schools were identified in the UK as being too radically Islamic and just recently, a whole village just outside Montreal was discovered to have nothing but extreme Orthodox Jewish teachings which ill-equipped students for the real world.
When it came to secularism in education, I thought of places like Sweden or Japan. It's hard for me to figure out what the threat is.
Not to hard in Saudi Arabia, where atheism has been classified as terrorism! The story specifies that terrorism tied to Islam is only extremist Islam -- it made no reference to what sort of atheism it is that compels atheist terrorists. I guess any atheism does.
Here is, apparently, how this understanding of extremism first manifests itself.
Farida Farsi spoke to Saudi Gazette about encouragement earlier accorded to students bragging about their efforts in smashing a television set at home, or cutting what they believe is indecent clothes of their mothers and other female family members.
Right, that sounds like extremist or radical religion to me. It's unlikely a radical atheist would do this. Apparently essential teachings of Islam (tm) will resolve this. Furthermore, if the person has swung too far into religion or too far outside, one religious scholar believes that a little negotiation will help.
Ali Badahdah, a religious scholar, said that based on his observations and review of some 22 studies conducted on extremist individuals, various efforts to negotiate with them have provided positive effect. He said nothing stands impossible and these people can still have room to come back and change their views.
I wonder if the negotiation with a young atheist might go something like this?:
Scholar: Are you an atheist?
Scholar: This means you're a terrorist and you'll be killed by the state. Are you still an atheist?
Given the country's atrocious record on human rights and freedom of expression and their brutal suppression of any religion other than Islam as well as atheists, I find this part of the article the punchline.
This, she said, is seen as each person does not accept anything other than his/her own thoughts. “We have to focus on accepting others as they are and seek happiness for all.”
Al-Harthi believes that the national dialogue is an achievement as it provides a platform for people coming from different backgrounds and carrying different believes to sit at the same table and respect each others’ views.
You mean so long as everyone's point of view matches state-sanctioned religious beliefs and opinions? Right. Keep working on that because you have a long long way to go.