This is a ShaykhSalman’s letter to
his fellow Saudis, and I find it very
relevant to Nigerians. May Allah
save us from injustice and hell
Here is the open letter. Read it and
1. Your friend is the one who
speaks to you honestly. A rational
person values the truth, regardless
of who speaks it. We are speaking
about the nation we love and
whose future we are all equally
concerned about.
2. We must preserve the gains we
have made. Our shared geography
should encourage us to work for
reform. The alternative is chaos,
disintegration, and strife.
3. People here are the same as
they are everywhere else in the
world. They have their ambitions,
their demands, and their rights.
They will not remain silent forever if
some or all of these things are
constantly denied to them.
4. Negative feelings have been
accumulating for a long time. I
draw what I am saying from
numerous people hailing from all
sectors and regions of our society.
5. When people cease being
afraid, you can expect them to do
anything, and if their anger gets to
a critical point, then nothing will be
able to placate them.
6. When tempers are high,
religious, political, and cultural
symbols lose their value. The mob
in the street takes control.
7. Rising security concerns subject
most of the nation’s energies to the
demands of a security-centered
The Prisons:
8. Every possible suspect has
been put in prison. There has been
ample opportunity to release the
suspects who are innocent, but this
has not happened.
9. The prison system has not
exhibited any strategic thinking. As
a consequence, hatred,
vengefulness, and militancy have
become rife in our prisons.
10. I support the prisoners, though
many of them are dissatisfied with
me. Some who have been
released have been vociferous in
their attacks on me. Nevertheless,
it is my duty to come to their
defense. Human rights are not
limited to those who agree with us.
11. Many members of the royal
family are dissatisfied with how our
prisons are being managed. This is
clear to me from Twitter, from
discussions, and from first-hand
12. Most of those who, decades
ago, were sentenced to dozens of
years in prison for allegedly trying
to overthrow the Saudi government
were pardoned and released after
only a few years.
13. There are no clear regulations
and institutions to normalize how
prisoners are treated. Everything is
decided on a case-by-case basis
on the strength of a detective’s
14. The recent burning of officials’
pictures is a symbolic act that
should give us some pause to
think. What got it started? Where is
this all going?
15. The Bureau of Investigation
has complete control over
surveillance, arrests, searches,
judicial procedures, and
sentencing. This causes the denial
of a lot of human rights.
16. When a police officer mistreats
a prisoner, he is gambling with the
nation’s future.
17. Disturbing humanitarian and
health conditions have been
ignored for so long that they have
become complicated and difficult to
resolve, and this may be what has
motivated some women to act.
The Media:
18. Official spokesmen express
their distress at what is going on.
Theirs are voices from the past.
Their words have no attraction.
They are unconvincing and
19. The security brigade on Twitter
and the quasi-governmental news
channels label every sincere
advisor as a “provocateur” and
every caller to reform as “self-
serving”. Nevertheless, public
awareness is growing more and
20. People need to hear news
coverage and field reports about
the prisons from those who are
unaffiliated with the security
apparatus. It is wrong that the
security interests get to play both
judge and jury.
21. Blackmailing citizens by
mentioning our nation’s “martyrs” is
to sell the blood of our national
heroes cheaply (may God have
mercy on them). We all support
those men, but we also call for
releasing the innocent from prison.
22. When people lose faith in their
national security agencies, it is not
possible for them to take those
agencies as a reliable source of
23. Pushing for third parties is not a
solution. The fact is that the
opponents are trying to exploit
internal conditions whose causes
cannot be ignored.
The Remedy:
24. There is smoke and dust on the
horizon. We are justified in
worrying about what lies beyond. If
the security agencies tighten their
grip, it will only worsen the
quagmire we are in and cut off all
hope of reform.
25. After waiting so long, tell us
what will reassure us that a new
era has begun. Placate our
cynicism by surprising us with
positive and unexpected news.
26. When the doors are locked,
those who are desperate will stop
weighing the pros and cons of their
actions. Where will they go when
those who have tried the open
doors have been arrested?
27. Is the Interior Ministry working
as hard to find ways to guarantee
and secure the release of the
detainees as it did to arrest them in
the first place?
28. This file should be closed. No
one should be left in detention
except for those who have clear
and legitimate evidence brought
against them. This should be
declared immediately.
29. I have been briefed on
circumstances where prisoners
have suffered serious injustices.
These include cases of death,
physical and psychological abuse,
obstruction of release orders, and
ignoring judicial verdicts. We have
not been provided with any
clarification of these matters.
30. Fearing how a prisoner will
behave after being released is no
excuse to dispense with the rule of
law. It is not right to punish
thousands of people due to the
possibility that a few of them might
engage in acts of violence.
31. Measures must be taken to
secure the release of the detainees
from the Association for Civil and
Political Rights (HASM) and the
Jeddah reformers. Their rights
need to be upheld for the sake of
social cohesion, human rights, and
God’s mercy.
32. It is dangerous to restrict
people to the point that they feel
they have nothing more to lose.
33. A citizen’s rights are legitimate
and inalienable. They are not a
34. Transparency is needed in
arrests. Investigations are needed
regarding judicial proceedings, the
ways judges are influenced, and
interference in judicial
appointments that affect the justice
of the judicial system.
35. It is unreasonable to have
investigations and prosecutions
carried out by the Interior Ministry,
whereas in other countries these
procedures are carried out
independently or under the
auspices of the Ministry of Justice.
36. There have been real
infringements of justice in the
treatment of prisoners. This needs
to be investigated in earnest and
the perpetrators need to be
punished. Procedures must be put
in place to ensure that such
infringements are never repeated.
37. Responding to the legitimate
demands of the people is not a
38. Those who are released should
have all their rights restored in full.
They should be allowed to conduct
their lives with dignity, so we can
help them to get beyond the past.
39. Causes of societal distress
include: financial and
administrative corruption,
unemployment, inadequate
housing, poverty, substandard
healthcare and education, and dim
prospects for political reform.
40. It is impossible to maintain the
status quo. The real question is:
Where are we headed?
41. People are worried about the
future. They have many questions
and they are not getting answers. It
should therefore be of no surprise
that wealth is flowing out of the
country more and more, and
maybe our businessmen will soon
42. Like it or not, we are all in the
same boat. We must work together
to keep it afloat. If the cure is
accompanied by a bitter taste, then
we must just learn to swallow it
and get past it.
43. It is the government’s job to
regulate business, not to obstruct
it. Preventing opportunities for
organizational activities, volunteer
efforts, and charitable work will
destroy civil society.
44. How can a country that relies
upon personal connections instead
of institutions ever hope to face
real challenges?
45. The people – especially our
young people – are asking: Where
are the channels of communication
between us and our leaders?
46. Many citizens fear anarchy and
lawlessness. If their fears are to be
placated, they need to see a
realistic program of reform – and
they need to be allowed to
participate in it.
47. Rational people do not want to
see a spark turn into a raging blaze
that burns their country down. They
do not want violence to become
the mode of expression.
48. When revolutions are
suppressed, they turn into armed
conflicts. If they are ignored, they
grow in reach and in breadth. The
only solution is to take wise and
timely decisions before violence is
49. The chance to do things right
might not come again. Things done
too late lose their effectiveness.
Time is a double-edged sword. It
can work for you or against you.
50. God knows that from my heart I
do not intend to deceive anyone.
Any abuse I may have received
from any party is forgiven. I have
nothing but goodwill for this
country, its leaders, and its

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