Riyadh: In a not-so-surprising move, the ultra conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia has listed feminism, atheism and homosexuality as ‘extremist ‘elements, even as the country seeks to promote tolerance and attract foreigners.
Saudi Arabia’s counter-extremism department announced the move on Twitter, where it warned its citizens to remain cautious against such groups, or else face punishment.
“Don’t forget that excess of anything at the expense of the homeland is considered extremism,” said the promo on Twitter. It listed those concepts alongside takfir – the practice of labelling followers of other schools of Islam unbelievers.
So, if you identify as a ‘feminist’ or a ‘homosexual’ in the country, be ready for a public lashing by the authorities or you could even go to jail. However, if you are lucky enough, you may escape by paying a fine.
While on the one hand, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed for a more moderate form of Islam, on the other hand, authorities have constantly cracked down on dissent, detained scores of critics including clerics, intellectuals and activists.
According to a report by Reuters, close to a dozen women’s right advocates were detained weeks before a ban on women driving which they had campaigned against was lifted last year.
Under Saudi law, supporting groups classified as extremist organizations can lead to imprisonment. Homosexuality and atheism have long been illegal and punishable by death in the absolute monarchy, and now ‘feminism’ is added in the list.