ISSN 2330-717X

Drugs And Alcohol Scholarships – OpEd

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By Eissa A. Bougary

According to a well known religious figure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it seems that Saudi students are using the scholarships provided by their country to indulge in alcohol and drug use. He later denied this statement.

It was said that he suggested students be subjected to alcohol and drugs tests at airports around the country upon their return. Of course, this should be taken as a joke.

However, what worries me is not this absurd suggestion, but the fact that it comes from a well-known religious figure with more than half a million followers on Twitter, and millions more outside the online community. Even more worrying is the lack of official response from the government condemning such outrageous, ridiculous, borderline criminal and very public behavior. This gives the wrong idea that such announcements are tolerated by the government which sends three completely wrong messages.

One, religion can be used in the worst way to rally people behind the caprice of any individual without repercussion. We claim to be the country of the Two Holy Mosques, the land of revelation and the home of the holiest place on earth. Yet, the unholiest of announcements, ranging from absurd lingerie fatwa to mass drug testing of students to the separation of men and women in the Holy Mosque, come from prominent religious figures in the country. What are we doing to Islam?

Two, it is acceptable that anyone could slander the reputation of thousands of people publicly and get away with it without even apologizing. This reduces the sense of civil justice. If you are a religious figure, followed by millions, then you are invincible. You can insult, accuse and character assassinate anyone any time you see fit. It’s not only acceptable, but it’s supported, encouraged, and cheered by millions. This might seem like a public silly discussion of the issues but in it is a deep civil injustice that could backfire any time. It’s an extremist nuclear time bomb!

Three, using religion for political gain is a recipe for disaster. History books are full of lessons on this issue; actually history lessons are nothing but that. It’s a curse that lasts forever, just ask any Christian about the Catholic Church during Europe’s Dark Ages. We are seeing this being replicated here. It’s even worse today because it is not official or confined to a certain geographical location. It’s an ideology that is spreading like a pandemic flu all around the world infecting individuals and societies globally. The only vaccine against it is to to use your mind and intuition.

So, it might seem that this man’s caprice is to be taken lightly, but the consequences are grave. It allows for chaos. It should be fought aggressively on political and social platforms. A law should be formulated allowing for a civil class action suit against individuals who slander a whole category of people. It’s not acceptable on any level. We have to say NO!

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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