Berkley Center Knowledge Resources Home Berkley Center Home Berkley Center on iTunes U Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's Vimeo Channel Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's iTunes Page Berkley Center's Twitter Page Berkley Center's Facebook Page Berkley Center's Vimeo Channel Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's iTunes Page WFDD's Twitter Page WFDD's Facebook Page Doyle Undergraduate Initiatives Undergraduate Learning and Interreligious Understanding Survey Junior Year Abroad Network Undergraduate Fellows Knowledge Resources KR Classroom Resources KR Countries KR Traditions KR Topics Berkley Center Home Berkley Center Knowledge Resources Berkley Center Home Berkley Center Forum Back to the Berkley Center World Faiths Development Dialogue Back to the Berkley Center Religious Freedom Project Back to the Berkley Center Religious Freedom Project Blog Back to the Berkley Center Catholic Social Thought Back to the Berkley Center Normative Orders Collaborative
August 1, 2014  |  About the Berkley Center  |  Directions to the Center  |  Subscribe
 
Programs People Publications Events For Students Resources Religious Freedom Project WFDD

KNOWLEDGE RESOURCES

Saudi Arabia
The royal family of Saudi Arabia charges itself with the protection of the two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, and the propagation of the Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. The Muslim faith began in Mecca with the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE and quickly spread throughout the...
read more >>



Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia

The government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Basic Law do not recognize or protect freedom of religion in the country, and all citizens are subject to the government’s strict Hanbali interpretation of Sharia law. Since the establishment of the Saudi state, the House of Saud has promoted Wahhabism, a strict brand of Sunni Islam, as the only official religion. Despite a substantial Shi’a minority in the southern provinces and the presence of non-Muslims throughout the Kingdom, the government does not guarantee Shi’as and other religious minorities the right to worship privately. Religious minorities often practice their religion in the privacy of their homes, but the religious police unit has disrupted these ceremonies in the past. Certain Shi’a judges are allowed to operate in the south, but Shi’as face routine discrimination in higher education and the legal system. Both blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death, though there have been no confirmed executions recently for either crime. In the last decade, King Abdullah has rhetorically supported religious pluralism in Saudi Arabia as part of broader modernization efforts to restore Saudi Arabia’s international image. In 2003, Saudi Arabia began hosting a series of “National Dialogue” sessions aimed at promoting religious pluralism in the Kingdom. Consequently, the religious police lost the power to interrogate suspects, and the official school curriculum has been modified. The conservative religious establishment opposed these changes and, so far, the King’s attitude has not translated into substantive policy changes.