From Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Hayat, Sakina
In what might read to some like a further dispatch from our (fictional) Department of Bureaucratic Oppression, but is instead a series of dispatches from the real world, the Saudi government has relaunched a cleverly titled “thought policing” initiative. A slightly more literal translation might be “thought security.” Possible thought crimes appear to include Shi’ism, Sufism, secularism, interest in political parties, and attempts to organize demonstrations and sit-ins.
True totalitarian states are historically rare and the word should not be thrown around lightly, but the apparent effort to transform Saudi Arabia’s ‘religious police,’ the Committees for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, into a thought-policing body has a clear whiff of totalitarianism. Time will tell if the Saudi thought security initiative is an inept bureaucratic initiative or a substantial expansion into political repression for the religious police.
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