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H.  30 Shawwal 1432 No: 1432 A.H./ 40
M.  Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Press Release
The Granting of Voting Rights to Saudi Women is Meaningless under an Autocratic Absolute Monarchy that has Politically Disempowered the Entire Nation

On Sunday 25th of September, King Abdullah, monarch and leader of Saudi Arabia announced his decision to grant the country's women the right to vote and to stand as candidates in local municipal elections in 2015 as well as to be appointed as members of the Shura council. This comes against a backdrop of a call in May this year by more than 60 intellectuals in the kingdom to boycott the local elections scheduled for this week upon the premise that under an absolute monarchy, municipal councils lack the authority to effectively carry out their role in looking after the needs of their community.

Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Central Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir commented, "This hollow gesture that gives Saudi women the opportunity to enter powerless municipal councils or enables hand-picked female supporters of the Saudi regime to be appointed in the toothless unelected Shura council will do nothing to improve the rights of women in the country in real terms. What possible advancement in women's influence in political decision-making can there ever be under an absolute monarchy where absolute political power is under the tyrannical grip of the Saudi ruling family? Furthermore, it is a total farce for Abdullah to talk of female voting rights while women are forbidden from even driving to the polls due to ingrained non-Islamic cultural attitudes promoted and enforced by the regime."

"This measure is nothing but a cynical ploy by a ruling family desperately trying to quell popular anger towards its despotic rule and diffuse calls for political and economic change. It is a feeble attempt to cling to power and insulate itself from suffering the same fate as other dictators in the region toppled by the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring. Does Abdullah really expect the world to believe that a regime that prides itself on providing a safe haven for toppled brutal dictators has any concern for any human rights? Does he expect us to forget the dozens of women and children arrested this year alone under his orders, simply for expressing their political voice against the detention of their relatives as political prisoners for years without charge in the kingdom? Moreover it is shameful that Washington can hail this self-preserving act by a brutal dictatorship as a victory for Saudi women, while remaining silent over the regime's cruel repression of its people - simply to safeguard the continuity of its despotic friend and interests in the region."

"The women of Saudi Arabia and the region deserve better than bite-size political reform. They deserve better than crumbs thrown at them by autocratic rulers to appease their desire for real change. Islam gave women the right to vote for their leader and to be elected as representatives of their people 1400 years ago - this was true ground-breaking change for women's rights globally. In Islam rights and responsibilities are set and defined by the Creator, and thus are inalienable, and not subject to the whims of this and that western-backed dictator. An objective observer cannot miss the irony in Abdullah "deciding" to grant women this "right". Who is he to grant and deny such a right, among others?? What legitimacy does he, and the soon-to-fall-royal family have to decide on any issue for the Muslims of Saudi Arabia??"

"It is the current regimes in the Muslim world and not Islam that have turned back women's status to medieval times in the region. For decades states such as Saudi have been pursuing a charade of implementing Islam to maintain popular support for their rule, but in truth laws have been legislated from the personal whims of despots and dictators."

"In contrast to the regimes of today, the basis of the Khilafah "Caliphate" state is not preserving seats of power of individual rulers but preserving the correct and comprehensive implementation of Islam, one priority of which is ensuring the needs and rights of the people are met. It therefore views the political engagement of its citizens in holding the ruler to account as a vital necessity in order to ensure the laws of Islam are applied properly and its tenet of justice upheld effectively. The Khilafah "Caliphate" is therefore a system that facilitates rather than fights accountability and transparency in governance, a state that encourages women to be members of political parties, to vote for their ruler, to be elected representatives of the Majlis Al-Ummah (a consultative body that advises the ruler), and enables them to take any complaints they have regarding those in governance to the Mahkamat ul-Mazalim (court of unjust acts). It will be a state where having a political voice as a woman will have real meaning and real weight rather than existing as meaningless theoretical rhetoric."

"Hizb ut-Tahrir calls upon the Muslim men and women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work with us to bring down this illegitimate regime and to resume the Islamic way of life by establishing the Khilafah "Caliphate" state."

Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Central Media Representative, Hizb ut-Tahrir

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