On May 26th, the world woke to the horrors of the Houla Massacre committed in Syria by pro-Assad militias. This barbaric crime was harsh reminder to the terrors of this now 15- month conflict. Between 10,000 to 13,000 lives have been lost since the conflict started; the numbers are only going to increase the country slowly propels towards civil war.
The UN reports that 108 people were killed in the massacre. In particular, it was the brutal murder of 49 children and 34 women that outraged the world. One could not have expected the barbarism and savagery to reach levels this ruthless. Gunmen attacked the most vulnerable people to terrorize the population, attacking them at close range and sparing no one.
11-year old Ali El-Sayed’s family was exterminated before him. He survived to tell the story by pretending to be dead, being soaked in the blood of his six year old brother, while gunmen went on their murderous rampage. His is just one of thousands of unimaginable horror stories; most of which we will never get to hear. Some media outlets went as far as publishing images of corpses of the dead children, with hopes of ‘shocking us’ as one editor explained. With the world falling deaf to the screams of Syrian victims, perhaps such measures are necessary to wake us all up.
It is perhaps to the credit of these journalists that international reaction to the massacre was swift and loud. Syrian diplomats have since been expelled from numerous Western nations including the US, UK and Canada. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned the Syrian government; China and Russia agreeing on a resolution to the conflict for the first time. Even Syria’s long time supporters felt embarrassed standing by the tyrannical regime for once. Though, both nations continue to oppose tougher sanctions against Syria.
The world has expressed its disgust with the atrocious crime that took place. But will Bahar al-Assad face any repercussions? Robert Fisk thinks he will get away. Assad got away with Deraa and Homs; and he will get away with Houla too. Fisk argues that the Middle-East is littered with a hundred Houlas with ‘their dead children piled among the statistics, with knives and ropes as well as guns among the murder weapons’. It was Bashar’s Uncle Rafat’s Special Forces that carried out the massacre of insurgents in Hama in 1982. Today, the he lives between London and Paris – what is to say Assad would be in any different a position?
The Future of Syria
Everyone agrees that something needs to be done about the worsening situation in Syria; what exactly, no body’s sure. The UN special convoy’s peace plan brokered by Kofi Annan in March has ended in catastrophic failure with none of its conditions being met. It echoes the failure of similar plans in Bosnia and Rwanda; it has actually given political cover to a regime that continues its brutality without fail. As Philip Gourevitch explains, Annan’s plan ‘is another soap bubble, and the U.N. military observers who are supposed to monitor it are useless—or worse: when the butchery began in Houla, the regime told the U.N. monitors to stay away, which they did, bringing back bad memories, from the mid-nineties, of the false promises of protection that were extended, under the U.N. flag, to the people of Bosnia and Rwanda before they were abandoned to their killers’.
Congressman Keith Ellison too feels the UN peace plan has failed. He called for the international community to establish a ‘safe zone’ in Turkey that would protect fleeing Syrians; even if it means having to proceed without support from China and Russia. This safe zone will be protected by military forces, including those of the US, and would strike back if faced with regression from Syrian forces. The UN Security Council can play a much stronger role but its arms are paralyzed by Russian and China. Vladimir Putin’s minster stated that there would be no mingling with Syria’s internal affairs and that any military intervention would be premature.
Washington Post called for a stronger US leadership in mitigating the conflict. They too called for establishment of safe zones along or inside Syria’s border – which are to be guarded with the help of Turkish forces. So far the States has acted like a helpless player and has continued to pin the blame on Russia and China. With two on going conflicts in the Middle-East and an upcoming presidential election, a US led military intervention is unlikely. Nor is there any reason to assume they would be welcomed by the Arabs or hailed as liberators if any positive outcome ensues. A situation like that in Afghanistan is more likely to immerge in the case of such an intervention.
Turkey, along with Arab allies, who have a more favourable position in the region need to step up and play a more active role in stabilizing the conflict. Instead of waiting for the West to play its political and bureaucratic games, it is time for them take on leadership of that region and answer the call of the Syrian people. These initiatives need to be backed by Western powers and supported by any means possible. It is unlikely that such an initiative will take place, but it is one that would be likely welcomed.
The savagery demonstrated in Houla Massacre sends the message that nothing is off limits, nothing is sacred and nothing remains inviolable. It is this type of ruthlessness and disregard for divinely ordained sanctity that every tyrant has an eventual downfall. It will not be long before Bashar Assad will be humiliated and ousted – the question is how and when. Let us hope that those in power can learn from history and prevent catastrophes of the past from reoccurring. For the rest of us, dua is our main weapon. Please keep the people of Syria in your prayers.
Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record
Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.
Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?
This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:
1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens
When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.
Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.
This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.
2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower
The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.
While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.
3) Military aid and complicity of tax-payers
US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.
Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”
Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.
4) The Israeli lobby
The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.
5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history
This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.
Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.
The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.
An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari
دعوة عاجلة بخصوص أزمة الشيخ سلمان العودة، والشيخ عوض القرني، والدكتور علي العمري
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وآله
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
لقد تلقينا بقلق بالغ ما يتوارد من أخبار غير مؤكدة حول الإعدام الوشيك للشيخ سلمان العودة، و الشيخ عوض القرني، و الدكتور علي العمري
لقد علمنا الإسلام أن الحياة نعمة من الله و إن أولئك الذين يعملون على حرمان أى أحد من هذه النعمة دون أساس شرعي واضح قد ارتكبوا إثمًا فظيعًا عدّه الله من الكبائر: وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا (سورة النساء، 93)
إن رسول الله ﷺ وصحابته قد اعتبروا حياة كل من نطق الشهادة، وكذا ماله وعرضه حرامًا لا يُقبل انتهاكها ولقد حرصوا كل الحرص على ألا ينتهكوا تلك الحقوق الأصلية حتى في تطبيق الحدود
قال رسول الله ﷺ: ادفَعوا الحدود ما وجدْتم لها مدفعًا (سنن ابن ماجة)، وقال ابن مسعود: ادرءوا الجلد والقتل عن المسلمين ما استطعتم (السنن الكبرى)
إن حرمة دم المسلم عند رسول الله ﷺ عظيمة جدًا، فلزوال الدنيا أهون عنده من قتل امرئٍ مسلم (سنن الترمذي)
ولقد كان السلف يقولون عند طوافهم بالكعبة: ما أعظمك وأعظم حرمتك، والمؤمن أعظم حرمةً عند الله منك (رواه الترمذي)
في ضوء الهدي النبوي، وعِظم أمر انتهاك الحقوق الأصلية التي منحها الإسلام للمسلم، فإننا نطالب السلطات المعنية بأن يوقفوا أي خطة مبيتة لإعدام الشيخ سلمان العودة، والشيخ عوض القرني، والدكتور علي العمري، سواءً في المستقبل القريب أو البعيد
نطالب أولئك الذين في السلطة أن يصدروا عفوًا في حقهم في هذا الشهر المبارك
إننا نؤمن بيقين أن هؤلاء العلماء لم يقترفوا أى شيءٍ يبرر التعامل المروع الذي يتعرضون له لمدة عام وأكثر وإننا نطلق هذا النداء كنصيحة صادقة، محققين دورنا كعلماء عليهم واجب بيان الحق، ومستحضرين أن كل واحد فينا سيسأل عن عمله في الآخرة حيث الظلم ظلمات لا تفضي إلا إلى عذاب النار
والله في عون المظلومين واللهم صل وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد
17 رمضان 1440 /22 مايو 2019
كتب بواسطة (الشيخ) سلمان يونس
An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari
All praise belongs to Allah, and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad and His family.
Peace and mercy be upon you:
It is with great concern and perturbation that we have received unconfirmed reports regarding the imminent execution of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari.
Islam teaches us that life is a blessing from Allah. Those who seek to deprive someone of this blessing without a clearly sanctioned religious basis have committed an act that God deems atrocious and a mighty sin: “If anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain: Allah is angry with him, and rejects him, and has prepared a tremendous torment for him.”(Qur’an, 4:93)
The Inviolability of the Believer
The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions viewed the life, wealth, and honor of all who uttered the testimony of faith (shahada) as inviolable. They took immense care not to impede on these basic rights even in the context of enacting punishments.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Avoid applying punishments as long as you are able to find an excuse to avert them,”(Sunan Ibn Majah) and Ibn Masʿud stated, “Avoid flogging and applying the death penalty upon people as much as you can.”(Sunan al-Kubra)
Indeed, the sanctity of the believer was so great in the eyes of the Prophet ﷺ that he deemed the destruction of the world as a lighter affair than the killing of even a single Muslim. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
Similarly, the early Muslims (salaf) would remark when gazing upon the Kaʿba, “The inviolability of a believer is greater with Allah than your inviolability.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi) There are few statements one can imagine as emphatic as these in affirmation of the rank of the believer.
A Call for Clemency
In light of the guidance of the Prophet ﷺ and the gravity of depriving a Muslim of the fundamental rights granted to him or her by Islam, we urge the authorities in question to immediately cease any plans to execute Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari in the immediate or distant future.
We urge those in the leadership to grant them clemency in this blessed month of Ramadan.
It is our firm belief that the actions of these scholars do not in any way justify the appalling treatment they have been subjected to over the past year and more. We make this call in the spirit of providing sincere counsel, realizing our role as scholars duty-bound to the expression of truth, and recognizing that each of us will be held accountable for our actions in the next life where oppression will be nothing but darkness leading to perdition.
And Allah is in the aid of His oppressed servants. May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon His Prophet.
Ramadan 17th, 1440
May 22nd, 2019
Drafted by Shaykh Salman Younas
Signatories (v. 2)
|Shaykh Faraz Rabbani|
|Dr. Yasir Qadhi|
Islamic Seminary of America
|Shaykh Omer Suleiman|
|Dr. Ingrid Mattson|
Dr. Omar Qureshi
Dr. Abdullah Hamid Ali
Shaykh Mustapha Elturk
Amir, Islamic Organization of North America
|Shaykh Rami Nsour|
|Dr. Shadee Elmasry|
|Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari|
Director of Darul Iftaa Leicester
Shaykh Azhar Nasser
Professor John Esposito
Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf
|Dr. Jonathan Brown|
|Professor Mohammad Fadel|
University of Toronto
|Imam Suhaib Webb|
Scholar in Residence, ICNYU
|Shaykh Shams ad-Duha|
Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Imam Dawud Walid
Member of Michigan Imams Council
Dr. Asim Yusuf
|Dr. Ovamir Anjum|
University of Toledo
|Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick|
|Shaykh Hani Saleem|
Islamic Center of Detroit
|Dr. Shabbir Ally|
|Shaykh Furhan Zubairi|
Dean of IOK Seminary
|Dr. Ihsan Bagby|
University of Kentucky
|Shaykh Mohammed Faqih|
Islamic Institute of Orange County
|Shaykh Bilal Ali Ansari|
|Shaykh Abdur Rahman Khan|
Co-Chair of National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue
|Shaykh Sulaiman Gani|
|Dr. Hamid Slimi|
|Mufti Taha Karaan|
|Shaykh Sadullah Khan|
|Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi|
Chairman of Fiqh Council of America
|Shaykh Taha Abdul-Basser|
|Imam Ibrahim Hindy|
Dar al-Tawheed Islamic Center
|Dr. Basma Abdelgafar|
Vice President of Maqasid Institute Global
|Prof. Jasser Auda|
President of Maqasid Institute Global
Former President of UConn SJP
|Dr. Osman Latiff|
Jamia Masjid and Islamic Center
|Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan|
|Imam John Ederer|
Muslim Community Center of Charlotte
|Shaykh Amer Jamil|
|Shaykh Bilal Ismail|
Imam Development Project
|Shaykh Muhammad Mustaqeem Shah|
|Dr. Bekim Hasani|
Imam and Activist
|Imam Imran Salha|
|Dr. Tajul Islam University of Leeds|
|Dr. Mustapha Sheikh|
University of Leeds
|Dr. Ahmed Soboh|
Religious Director of Chino Valley Islamic Center
|Dr. Rafaqat Rashid|
Al Balagh Academy
|Imam Shafi Chowdhury|
|Shaykh Salmaan Parkar Australian Islamic College|
|Dr. Mohammad Ilyas,|
University of Florida
|Dr. Asif Hirani|
Imam and Resident Scholar of Worcester Islamic Center
|Shaykh Ahmad Kutty|
Resident Scholar of Islamic Institute of Toronto
|Shaykh Mohammad Aman Haque|
|Imam Mazhar Mahmood|
Director of Islamic Foundation of Peoria
Organizing Director of MPower Change
Muslim Chaplaincy of Waterloo
|Mawlana Zakariyah Harneker|
|Shaykh Shahinur Rahman|
|Shaykh Abdul Wahab Saleem|
|Dr. Usaama Al-Azami|
|Ustadh Samir Hussain|
ISNA High School
|Shaykh Tariq Ata||Dr. Zaid alBarzinji|
|Shaykh Abdur Rahim Reasat|
|Mufti Liaquat Zaman|
Imam Salim Astewani
Shaykh Tabraze Azam
Dr. Sharif El-Tobgui
|Imam Qasim Rashid|
|Dr. Yvonne Haddad|
Executive Director, MuslimMatters
|Shaykh Muhammad Abuelezz|
Muslim Association of Canada
|Mufti Ismail Syed|
|Mawlana Safwaan Navlakhi|
|Dr. Ildus Rafikov|
|Shaykh Hassan Rabbani|
|Ustadha Umm Jamaal ud-Din|
Islamic College of Australia
|Dr. Munir Elkassem|
President, Islamic Institute of Interfaith Dialogue
|Dr. Yusuf Salah|
OpEd: The Planned Saudi Executions Have A Context
The Arab Spring and its immediate aftermath was a wake-up call to all those who feared for the security of their thrones
By Abdullah Abu Dawud
The news of the intended Saudi execution of three prominent scholars has infuriated many observant Muslims around the world. This is no surprise considering the fact that that the three scholars have attracted a vast audience through their TV programs and social media activity. These three scholars, and many like them, have been the source of religious knowledge and inspiration for many Muslims, not only in the Arab world, but around the globe.
However, our objection Saudi Arabia’s treatment and intended execution of these scholars should not be simply rooted in emotion. In order to properly oppose such reckless decisions, we must understand the motivation behind them and the context in which they exist. For as reckless as these decisions may be, they are not arbitrary and are not devoid of context. They exist within a bigger picture; a picture that I will try to sketch in this article. We must rewind back to the early part of the 20th century. That era witnessed events that, by all accounts, changed the nature of the Muslim world. The Muslim lands that were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire were conquered and colonized by Western powers (Britain and France), and the office of the Caliph (based in Istanbul) was abolished. This was accompanied by a calculated uprooting of Islamic social and legal structures that existed for centuries; the colonizing powers imported their European structures to serve as the new order in this part of the world. By the end of the colonization project, populations across the Arab world ended up with corrupt and authoritarian regimes and social structures and legal codes which were imported from foreign countries.
Inevitably, this new reality that was imposed on the Arab populations gave rise to organic reactions which aimed to resist this new reality. Eventually, a broad movement (often labeled as the “Islamic movement”) took shape with two main identifiable goals: 1) The revival of Islamic law and values and re-establishing Islam’s role in governance and public life (which was highly reduced after the abolishment of the Caliphate), and 2) Establishing a governance system whose legitimacy was rooted in the consent of the people. It may also be said that those two primary goals also served as criteria by which Muslim governments would be measured; i.e their adherence to Islam and their respect for the will of the populations. This broad movement was largely led by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and then spread across the Arab and Muslim world. Although the Brotherhood is deemed to be an originator of this movement, today, many people share this vision of “revival” and “popular legitimacy” while lying outside of the organizational borders of the Brotherhood (but can still be described as being part of the “Islamic movement”).
Those who shared this vision, not surprisingly, were constantly pursued by the authoritarian regimes of the Arab world. It is also not surprising that those who shared this vision would be vocal supporters if not active participants in the Arab Spring. Indeed, the Arab Spring has demonstrated repeatedly that Arab populations yearn for a participatory form of government and find a certain appeal in the message of Islamic parties (as evidenced by the electoral victories of Islamic parties in all countries of the Arab Spring). In other words, the Arab Spring made it clear to all observing autocrats that, when given the choice, Arab populations will likely elect Islamic parties into power. The Arab Spring and its immediate aftermath was a wake-up call to all those who feared for the security of their thrones. In Abu-Dhabi and Riyadh, things were clear: The Arab spring is either to be reversed, or they will be next. With the successful ousting of the Brotherhood in Egypt and the unconditional green-light given by the Trump administration, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Cairo have decided to kill the Arab Spring once and for all. The recent news about the intended execution in Saudi Arabia must be seen in this context.
Clerics such as Salman Al-Ouda, Ali Al-Omari, and Awad Al-Qarni were all vocal supporters of the Arab Spring uprisings and are associated with the Sahwa movement (which is a movement of Islamic political activism in the Gulf that draws heavily on Brotherhood ideas). The Arab autocrats simply view those voices as a danger. They represent a movement which challenges the status quo and questions the legitimacy of the rule of Arab autocrats; a movement which can be traced to the movement originated by the Brotherhood following the fall of the Caliphate and beginning of colonization. The autocrats could not afford to have influential clerics and TV personalities preach about popular legitimacy or the relevance of Islamic values and principles to public life and governance; after all, these are ideas that, if believed, would seriously question the legitimacy of their rule. As such, and after getting brief a taste of what free choice would look like in Arab nations, it became clear that the to these autocrats that the danger was more real than what they thought and more immediate. It seems that their action plan is simply to silence anyone who represents the spirit of the “Islamic movement”. From their perspective, they want to chop off the head of the snake and settle the matter once and for all.
These intended executions are not about support for extremism (a laughable accusation). Nor are they about views concerning the recent blockade on Qatar. Nor are they about the clerics’ criticisms of their government; in fact, these clerics did engage in harsh criticism of the Saudi government. Their crime is that they represent a message that, by definition, calls into question the legitimacy of the Saudi government. More importantly, it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire “order” that exists in the Arab world. The Saudi government is declaring war (along with its allies in Abu-Dhabi and Cairo) against those who represent a movement that has the potential of redefining the Arab world. Even if those clerics do not engage in direct confrontation with the Saudi government and express their views in positive terms, the existence of that message and its accessibility to Arab populations is serious enough of a problem.
What these autocrats to do not realize is that the ideas which these scholars represent exist independently of the efforts and words of these scholars. The belief in the centrality of Islam and the will of the people exists in the conscience of the vast majority of Muslims. These ideas are not the product of scholars such as Salman Al-Ouda, Awad Al-Qarni, or Ali Al-Omari. Rather, those scholars are the product of the ideas which organically exist in the minds of many Muslims. As such, executing these scholars will not bring an end to those ideas whose strength was demonstrated in the aftermath of the Arab spring. If anything, such executions are an affirmation by the Saudi government that it and its autocratic allies stand on very feeble ground. If the Saudi government goes through with its plan, all it will be doing is creating a void that will inevitably be filled by other people represent the same ideas. The cycle will keep going until the feeble ground which these autocrats stand gives way.