Saudi Arabia: No Country for Bold Women


….It is hard to overstate the chilling effect of the arrests and other recent acts of repression on public discourse within the Kingdom, which is already highly constrained. Even in 2010, well before the political rise of bin Salman, barely 15 percent of respondents to an Arab Barometer poll felt they could “criticize government policies without fear.” Last November’s “anti-corruption” proceedings that saw dozens of princes and officials detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel already left many Saudis fearful that any stray critical statement—in public or private—might provoke the government’s ire. Politically sensitive conversations among Saudis now take place with cell phones turned off and left in a neighboring room; text conversations move to ever-more-secure messaging platforms and are wiped ever-more-frequently. The voices silenced last week represented one of the last bastions of on-the-record public criticism of government policy.

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