Abdulaziz Saud

Al-MAJLIS according to the world of al-Saud House

A Majlis in Saudi Arabia is the "democraticization" of the government. Al-Saud claim that their country is a democracy because of their use of the Majlis. The Majlis works like this : There is always a prince at the Majlis and he is always an al-Saud. People flock in stroves and meet in an informal way and petition the prince to solve their problems. Depending where one lives in Saudi Arabia, a Majlis like a court room is held with the prince that governs that area. This public display of democracy is not so democratic. The princes in question have not had any formal training to judge or apply any of the laws that exist in Saudi Arabia.

We have three different transcripts of a Majlis with three different nationalities. When one looks at the results and outcome of the prince's rule, one would see immediately how democracy is applied today in Saudi Arabia through a system of injustices and based on a whimsical approach and not applied rule of the law. These examples areexcerpts from : "The Rise, Corruption, and Coming Fall of The House of Saud" by Said K. Aburish. St. Martin's Press, New York (212) 387-9100

Presiding Prince : Salman bin Abdul Aziz
Petitioner : 70 year old Saudi citizen
Petition : Seeking money and permission to marry a 15 year old Egyptian girl.

Two Years later, [1988] in Riyadh, in the middle of the country, a Lebanese journalist who is in the pay of the House of Saud attended a majlis of Prince Salman, the Emir of Riyadh and head of the House of Saud's family council. Initially, the journalist occupied the seat of honour, to the right of the Prince, but continued to make way for important people as they arrived and was soon at the other end of the Diwan. Behind Prince Salman stood a tall black guard with a sword and a gun. Following is the report of the journalist :

"Everything big and small is handled in a majlis. Believe me, there was a blind man who was there to petition the Prince to allow him to have a driver's licens. He was questioned in an amusing way then dismissed. Some Bedouins spoke to the Prince and they addressed him by his first name, the way Bedouins have called rulers since the Prophet Mohammad. The House of Saud claim the majlis is their way of staying in direct touch with the people, and in a way an open house serves this purpose. But damn it, though Salman is probably the best among them, the whole thing is arbitrary and some aspects of it are most unattractive. Let me give you some examples.

"There was a seventy year old man, a man from Riyadh. He had married a 15 year old girl in Cairo and, because marrying foreigner needs specila permission, he wanted to bring his Egyptian bride home. The old so-and-so turned out to be a regular at the majlis and it led to an musing exchange between him and the Prince.

The Prince :"But, old man, are you able to support your young bride ?"

The old man :"No, no, but I told her we have a generous Prince and she'll never need as long as he's alive."

The Prince laughed :"How many times have you been married ?

"A mere eleven, may you live long, but I promise this will be the last time."

"But you have made this promise before ?"

"I do remember, Allah bless you, but I do not think I can go beyond this beautiful thing."

Everybody laughed. The Prince issued an order approving the marriage and granted the old man funds to bring his bride home.

Presiding Prince : Local Provincial Prince
Petitioner : General Manager of a Saudi hotel on behalf of a foreign worker Petition : Seeking to find the whereabouts of the foreign worker

In 1986 the general manager of a major saudi hotel, part of an international chain, went to see the local province prince regarding one of his employees, a Filipino bellboy, who had been arrested by member of CAVES (Committee for Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin). The manager entered the diwan and sat down until his turn to speak came. He handed over a piece of paper containing his name and occupation and a stetemnt about the case, but stood up and made an oral presentation which elaborated the paper's contents. "May you live long, one of my employees, a poor Filipino boy of 17, was arrested by members of the Mutawa [another name for CAVES] three months ago for wearing indecent clothes. I do not question their right or judgement, but my initial enquiries indicated that he would be realesed in four weeks. My subsequent inquiries produced similar promises, but nothing has happened. May you live long, I am here to enquire about the boy's fate. And upon my honor, I'll see to it that the boy behaves in accordance with the blesses laws of Islam in the future."

The man remained standing to hear the prince's response:.

"What was the exact nature of his crime, what kind of clothes did he wear ?"

"May you live long, he wore hsi shirt immodestly. It was open in the front and exposed parts of his body it shouldn't have and waering gold objects around his neck."

"Is he a good looking boy ?"

"he is not bad looking, sir."

"Then you'll never see him again."

The laughter was loud and long; the petitioner, still standing, joined in to protect himself. The Prince, visibly enjoying himself, spoke again.

"You need not bother about your employee. Sooner or later they'll find him and send him home to his mother. There is no question of returning to work. We cannot permit loose men like him to infect our country with their ways."

The manager thanked the Prince and left. To this day, he has no idea what happened to the boy. When not in Saudi Arabia, the prince wears Wetsern clothes, frquents nightclubs to chase blondes and drinks like a fish. In Saudi Arabia, he drinks in private and marries often.

Presiding Prince : Salman bin Abdul Aziz
Petitioner : Korean and Filipino Workers Petition : Seeking retribution for salaries not paid.

... later, in the same majlis, there was a delegation of Korean and Filipinos workers. They came to petition the Prince because their Saudi employer hadn't paid their salaries for two months and they didn't have money to eat. The Prince had heard about the case and he wasn't amused. He asked the spokesemen for the delegation whether it was true that they had demonstrated against their employer. When they admitted they they had, he ordered them deported from the country. He saw their action as a sdisturbance of the local peace which superseded the gravity of their grievance.

Presiding Prince : Salman bin Abdul Aziz
Petitioner : American banker Petition : Seeking justice in an car accident.

... 'Even later that day, an American banker appeared in front of the Prince and his case showed how uneven the majlis's ways can be. He had had an automobile accident with a Saudi in which the latter died. "Unaccustomed to the ways a majlis works, the banker proceeded to explain the accident; he blamed the Saudi driver and claimed that he had no driver's license. The Prince moved his hand in a motion which asked the American to stop and ordered him to pay a sum of money to the victim's family. In the final analysis, the rights and wrongs of the case as we understand them and they would have been judged by an insurance company did'nt matter--what counted was the death of a Saudi driver.

"What is wrong with the majlis is beyond the obvious and by that I mean the lack of pattern, precedence and the competence of a prince. What is wrong with it is the freedom of the person who renders judgement, that he is not bound by a recognizable law" Lebanese journalist witnessing the above incident.

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