20 March 2013
Sheikh Salman al-Oadah's âOpen Letter to the Saudi Peopleâ, published in English on 16 March 2013 on the IslamToday website, has been given considerable attention by the Western news media. Dozens of English-language news agencies have reported on the letter and analyzed its contents, as well as a number of news agencies in other European languages.
The coverage has been overwhelmingly positive. CNN describes the letter as a âbold warningâ and all the news agencies emphasize the letter's general call for reform in order to prevent future problems.
Acknowledging Sheikh Salman's prominent position as âone of Saudi Arabia
's most prominent and popular clericsâ, the articles all address Sheikh Salman's broad call for reform and do not just focus narrowly on the issue of the detainees.
Reuter's writes: âHe described a mood of stagnation which he said was caused by a lack of housing, unemployment, poverty, corruption, weak health and education systems, the plight of the detainees and the absence of any prospect of political reform.â
CNN makes a similar statement, adding that Sheikh Salman has identified "causes of societal distressâ.
Many of the news agencies, including Reuters, quote Sheikh Salman's statement: â"If revolutions are suppressed they turn into armed action, and if they are ignored they expand and spread. The solution is in wise decisions and in being timely to avert any spark of violence.â The theme that violence needs to be avoided through reform is a common focus of all the news coverage.
The various news sources also quote where Sheikh salman writes that Saudi's "like people around the world" would not "always be silent about forfeiting all or part" of their rights, before adding "when someone loses hope, you should expect anything from him".
Focusing on the same theme, CNN zeroes in on the statements that "negative feelings have been accumulating for a long time" in Saudi Arabia, and his statement: "When tempers are high, religious, political and cultural symbols lose their value. The mob in the street takes control."
The issue of the prisoners is, of course, not overlooked by the news coverage. CNN describes Sheikh Salman's analysis of the prisoner issue to be âextensiveâ and lauds his call that "no one should be left in detention except for those who have clear and legitimate evidence brought against them."