Saudi dissident says reforms will end monarchy
LONDON: A leading Saudi dissident said on Thursday that the conservative kingdom’s rulers were stifling debate over political change and that any serious reforms would spell the end of the monarchy.
“Any proper reform is incompatible with their stay in power. They have to go,” said Saad al-Fagih, head of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia. Fagih dismissed the “national dialogue” set up by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah to address political, social and economic grievances, saying delegates could not speak freely.
“The dialogue is behind four closed walls, people picked up by the regime and instructed to speak about specific subjects,” he told the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Hardtalk programme. Rocked by suicide bombings in Riyadh last year and facing Western pressure to reform its absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia has embarked on cautious political and economic changes. The national dialogue launched in June brought together liberals, conservative Sunni Islamic scholars and minority Shia representatives for talks on ways to develop political participation and fairly distribute Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth. —Reuters