In a couple of weeks Year 9 students will be studying about Hajj; the Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia which all Muslims hope to achieve at least once in their lifetime as part of the 5 Pillars. We also mention Saudi Arabia a couple of times in our GCSE classes when we talk about homosexuality, human rights, non-secular governments, women’s equality, capital punishment and prisons. So I thought it was time we had an in-depth study point here on our WordPress.
Here is where Saudi Arabia is located in the world:
Meanwhile this maps shows some of the important cities in Saudi Arabia:
On the Lonely Planet travel website it says its an amazing and beautiful country but incredibly difficult to get in to. Weather wise in November –March there are cooler temperatures make daytime weather bearable and nights surprisingly chilly. Whereas from April –October the daily temperatures are above 40°C and there is high humidity along the coast. This is when the month of Ramadan will fall which shows how tough it must be for Muslims to fast. All year round the Red Sea has excellent diving visibility but in the summer mornings dives are best.
Last week the British Prime Minister was making proud comments about the UK selling huge amounts of BAE defence equipment to Saudi Arabia on the same day that the EU Parliament voted for an arms embargo on the country. Embarrassing! Embargo means an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country. The reason the EU aren’t happy with the Saudis is their bombing of the Yemen, which is just to the south of the country. Why the Saudis are bombing the Yemen goes back to the divide which Year 8 students learnt about within Islam: the Sunni and Shia denominations. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim country whereas the Yemen has just been taken over by a Shia group called Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies believe that Iran (Shia) is behind what’s happening in the Yemen and so want to stop the rebels taking power and control.
That was all hitting the news last week and bubbling along without many people noticing but today there’s been more headlines created by Saudi Arabia. A Saudi man has been found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for proclaiming his atheism on social media. I think what has been most offensive to the Muslim government in Saudi Arabia has been his criticism of the prophets and Qur’an; unforgivable in Saudi law. If you are an atheist in Saudi Arabia you are seen as a terrorist as their law defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.