Saudi cabinet denounces racism


“The Kingdom gives the utmost importance to the problem of racism and works to prevent racist practices, and in order to do that, it follows the regulations drawn from Shariah that emphasize humanity irrespective of sex, color and race,” the Council of Ministers said.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who chaired the Cabinet meeting at Al-Aziziya Palace in Alkhobar, earlier briefed the ministers on the outcome of his talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajed in Riyadh last week.

King Abdullah is currently on an inspection tour of the Eastern Province. During the weeklong tour he is expected to launch a number of industrial and welfare projects worth SR54 billion in Jubail, including a SR12 billion water and electricity plant.

The just-concluded anti-racism conference in Geneva called for concerted efforts and a greater resolve and political will in fighting all forms of racism. The conference’s final document talked of a common aspiration to defy racism in all its manifestations and work to stamp it out wherever it may occur. The Untied States and a few other countries had boycotted the conference.

Popular writer and columnist Hatoon Al-Fassi said the Cabinet’s endorsement of the anti-racism conference was a huge step forward. “Let us be frank — racism does exist in our society as well and there is a need to weed it out,” she told Arab News. “The fact that the Cabinet discussed the issue of racism is quite significant. This is a sign that we are taking the issue seriously.”

Al-Fassi said there is tendency in the Kingdom to highlight such issues when they occur outside. “We are not very vocal in confronting it domestically,” she said. She felt the Human Rights Commission and National Society for Human Rights were doing a decent job of highlighting such cases and condemning them wherever possible.

According to Al-Fassi, discrimination against women is a form of racism too and should end. “This is gender apartheid. We need to acknowledge that there is discrimination against women … The Cabinet move against racism will help us move in that direction,” she said, adding: “Our endorsing the anti-racism conference document means we will now be accountable for what we do vis-à-vis cases of racism.”

Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said the Cabinet meeting reviewed the recent launch of new projects by King Abdullah at the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology as well as the opening of the Advanced Technologies Forum in Riyadh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *