The Saudi Regime's attachment to corruption is odious, but its gender apartheid is far worse

Riazat Butt posts this piece about her experiences in Saudi Arabia whilst reporting on the Hajj; may I commend it and the comment thread to you.

You know, I can’t help thinking that if the discrimination that was going on in Saudi Arabia was race based (and I know that there is race based discrimination in Saudi, but it is not hardwired into the law like it is for women) then it would be impossible for our Government to cosy up to the Saud family like they do. Instead of inviting them to tea and bribing them to buy our armaments we would be boycotting them and refusing to allow the ruling family to travel in Europe, like we do with African regimes that we disapprove of.

I was and still am tremendously proud of Vince’s stand back in October by refusing to meet members of the Saud family on their visit. The government’s stance over the BAe investigation and Saudi corruption is odious. And of course, we always tag on the end ‘..and they treat women appallingly’ in the way that everybody did when justifying the invasion of Afghanistan.

However, I would prefer if our elected representatives in the Liberal Democrats (or any other party for that matter) did not fell they needed corruption as the hook on which to hang their criticism of the Saudi regime’s treatment of women. It should be a big enough hook for a campaign in itself. The apartheid practised in Saudi Arabia is a gender apartheid not a racial one yet it is just as abhorrent and just as damaging to human rights. Successive UK governments tolerance of it should put us all to shame.


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