USCIRF releases updated report on religious freedom in Saudi Arabia
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently updated their annual report chapter on Saudi Arabia, stating their religious freedom conditions “remained poor despite some ongoing improvements” since 2020. Nevertheless, religious minorities, as well as some abiding Muslim citizens who decide to exercise their freedom of speech, continue to suffer from government mistreatment and persecution.
For centuries Sharia has been the governing law in Saudi Arabia until recent attempts to “shift power away from the kingdom’s religious authorities and, in some cases, limit the role of religiously grounded legal systems like male guardianship,” according to the USCRIF Report.
The Saudi government has made significant improvements to ameliorate the religious freedom conditions within the country, such as removing intolerant rhetoric towards religious minorities in curriculum textbooks, incorporating additional religiously tolerant language, and removing requirements on the closure of businesses during times of prayer.
Additionally, the government has made major strides for women’s rights, removing the requisite for a woman to be assisted by a male when conducting their hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca and allowing women to change their name without the authorization of a male guardian