Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saudi prisoners abroad: Are they all victims?

 sympathize with the families of Saudi prisoners in Iraq and pray that Allah hastens their release. But what puzzles me is that if they are all innocent and had nothing to do with militant groups or illegal associations, why didn't they enter the house from one of its legitimate doors? Why didn't they go through the official points of entry at the border, stay at hotels, use taxis and public transport, and do what normal visitors, traders and tourists would do?

Besides, what kind of business or tourism is there for young men in a country that is going through a civil war, a country whose own people are emigrating and seeking refuge in neighboring countries like ours?

I could understand it if the visitor was of Iraqi origin or married to an Iraqi. But in some cases we have young men who cannot explain their business in Iraq, how they entered, their financial sources and the identity of their hosts. Some do not even have passports, let alone permission from their family or government to visit Iraq. In such cases, my questions leave me confused and reluctant to accept the claim that these young men were kidnapped and are victims of a sectarian war and hatred or political pressure and bargaining.

While I support the efforts to have them released by providing them with a good legal defense, allowing them to fulfill their prison term in their own country, seeking a pardon for them or an exchange of prisoners, I do not approve of crying foul and pretending that they were all innocent and were victims of evil conspiracies.

While we reject Egyptian media campaigns to turn the case of Ahmad Al-Jizawee from a criminal to a political issue, and we argue that advocates have declared him innocent before learning the outcome of the investigation or court hearings, it is not befitting that we commit the same sin when it comes to our prisoners in Iraq, Lebanon, America and elsewhere.

It is the duty of the state to defend its citizens by providing them with the best legal defense and assuring them a fair trial, and then following up after the verdict (if it was fair and in accordance with the laws of the host country) to seek a pardon or a transfer to complete their sentences in the Kingdom. And if this is not possible, our embassy should keep an eye on the treatment our citizens receive in prison and follow up their legal cases, including making appeals and requesting parole and early release for good conduct.

These are a citizens rights when involved in legal issues abroad, but emotional campaigns for the release of prisoners and the use of sectarian, religious and political appeals and arguments in terrorist and criminal cases are not acceptable when used against us and should not be used by us against others.

What can families and sympathizers do then? The only valid option is supporting diplomatic and legal solutions rather than engaging in offensive campaigns.

At the same time we urgently study the phenomenon and seek an effective resolution. Behind these enthusiastic youth stand religious extremists who have filled them with hate and anger and then have encouraged them to travel abroad to engage in wars worldwide. These extremists take advantage of every emotionally charged issue.

As they once ordered young people to fight in sectarian wars in Iraq and Lebanon, they are pushing them to go to Syria, today, and maybe tomorrow to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, if we do not put an end to it.

Why do parents have to pay for this religious chaos, while the instigators call for jihad from the luxury and safety of TV studios in Dubai, Beirut and Europe, and from the pulpits of mosques, hotels, women?s clubs and the Internet, and while their children enjoy security and prosperity in their villas, schools and universities. Then, when the young men they have sent to foreign lands get caught, they call it a war against us and declare that it is a sectarian, racist and political issue! What a sham!

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