Kudos to the Tundra Tabloids’ friend and mentor, Primerprez, for his sharp eye in spotting the subtle changes in the Saudis website concerning travel to the Saudi Kingdom. Primerprez notes:
“As I write this, a Google search still shows that text appearing at //www.saudiairlines.com/services/travelguide.jsp but the web site itself has already been changed so this no longer appears. Nor do the warnings that “items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam” and Korans of non-Saudi origin are banned.”
- I am grateful to primerprez at “PRIMER-Connecticut” (where PRIMER stands for “Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting”) for pointing out this change in an Aug. 29 posting, “Our Saudi ‘Friends’ Respond to Criticism.”
- As primerprez puts it, the Saudi leaders “appear to have responded amazingly quickly to criticism from Daniel Pipes.”
- Dropping the offending paragraph would be very welcome if it indicated a shift in policy by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one that now permits “Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David.” It is less welcome if it merely cleans up the Saudia act for the outside world, as primerprez speculates is the case: “I doubt the Saudis have actually changed any of their obnoxious policies; they’re just not publicizing them on the Saudi Arabian Airlines web site.”
- I agree with this analysis – that nothing substantial has changed – for three reasons:
Allowing non-Islamic artifacts into the kingdom is too momentous an issue to be conceded without a fight. Nor would such a change happen so suddenly, within a week. The remaining “Customs Regulations” paragraph retains a more general, and therefore less offensive statement of this same restriction (“A number of items are not allowed to be brought into the Kingdom due to religious reasons”), indicating that the old policy clearly remains unchanged and in place.
- The decision to drop the second paragraph on customs restrictions points to the Saudi sense of vulnerability, which is not a total surprise. It’s a demographically small state surrounded by predators (Iran in particular), dependent on the income of one fickle commodity. It hardly needs added complications in its relations with the U.S. and other Western governments.
- My call of a week ago to “unite to exclude Saudi Arabian Airlines” remains in place. As I put it then: “Western governments should demand that unless the Saudi government at least permits ‘that [religious] stuff’ in, Saudia faces exclusion from the 18 airports it presently services in Europe, North America, and Japan.” Saudia’s access to those airports remains a weak spot that begs to be used as a mechanism to help bring a first step toward religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia
More here. *L* KGS
Update: Dr.D.Pipes has uploaded the same article on his website here, it includes the original Arabic script. Thanks to TINSC for the heads up. *L* KGS