"I think the most viable means forward in political dissent in Saudi Arabia is first to look to its past. There is a common joke in Saudi that it has the most polarized society, despite a governmental ban on political parties. I’d like to explain this by drawing attention to a superb article that is both insightful and concise, written by Sultan al-Amer, a Saudi intellectual. Al-Amer explains the rise of political factions in Saudi Arabia, the first large-scale Saudi political movement being the ‘Sahwa’, or ‘Islamic Awakening’, of the 1980s to mid 1990s. Its sole focus was on preserving Arab and Islamic identity and interests of the region, ignoring political rights, and directly opposing and actively suppressing individual freedoms. As an opposite to this, the Saudi Liberal movement emerged that was preoccupied with individual freedoms. Both movements lack what the current political dissent in Saudi Arabia must include: a focus on political rights and democracy. As al-Amer puts it, “it is for this reason that I reject the liberal narrative. Not because I am against individual rights, but because I refuse the dismissal of political rights and identity. This is the same reason why I previously rejected the ‘Sahwa’ narrative as well, not because I was against Arabism or Islam, rather, I cannot accept the sidelining of political and individual rights”. And, in my opinion, the cause of Saudi women’s rights will only be successful when it is no longer treated as separate from that same movement for political and individual rights in Saudi Arabia."
— Nora Abdulkarim on Twitter and Political Dissent in Saudi Arabia