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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Country Update

Saudi Arabia has taken some limited steps toward greater religious freedom in 2019 while continuing to restrict it in other ways. On a positive note, Saudi Arabia eased religious restrictions on women’s mobility in 2019 and allowed Saudi women for the first time to report births, marriages, and divorces. It also began issuing tourist visas and relaxed religious restrictions on dress for women visitors to the Kingdom. Yet at the same time, the government has conducted mass executions of Shi’a Muslims. It continued to detain several religious prisoners of conscience and severely mistreat activists who peacefully protested religious guardianship laws, and in official communications it described feminism as a form of radical extremism.

USCIRF Calls for Immediate Release of Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi

WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Saudi Arabia’s intensified mistreatment of religious prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi. The Saudi government has moved Badawi to solitary confinement and he has declared a hunger strike in protest. This is Badawi’s second hunger strike since September 2019. Saudi Arabia arrested Badawi in 2012 on charges of “apostasy” and insulting Islam. USCIRF has advocated for Saudi Arabia to release him since 2013 and has recommended that Congress and the administration continue do the same in its 2019 annual report.

USCIRF Applauds Announced Changes to Saudi Male Guardianship System

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed changes to Saudi Arabia’s laws that decrease restrictions imposed on women by the religiously-grounded male guardianship system. The changes allow women to travel without a guardian’s permission, maintain legal guardianship over their children, and register marriages, births, and divorces.

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