tv Center for Pluralism on U.S.- Saudi Arabia Relations CSPAN August 27, 2018 2:26pm-4:01pm EDT
deter us from standing up for the rights of asylum seekers who claim asylum. having said that, it is part of our law to make sure if you have no claim for asylum in canada [inaudible] >> thank you. thank you ministers. thank you to all of our officials and thank you to the staff and members of the committee. the meeting is adjourned. see you in september. >> the u.s. senate is back to work today at 4:00 p.m. eastern to consider the nomination of lynn johnson, to be assistant health and human services secretary for family support. a vote to limit debate and advance the nomination is set for 530 imac eastern. other nominations could be taken up by the senate later in the week. they will come to the floor to pay tribute to john mccain. he passed away at his home in arizona saturday at the age of
81 after a year-long battle with brain cancer. it's all coming up later today on c-span2. >> the former editor in chief of arid news talked about u.s. relations with saudi arabia. women's rights in the country, and the current political and economic situation. this event was hosted by the center for pluralism. it is one hour 30 minutes >> good afternoon. first of all, thank you for the fan for broadcasting this live and the program is about saudi american relations and we will talk about pluralism at the beginning and we will also talk about saudi american relations. don't go home without asking a question that is in your mind. thank you again to c-span.
i know there are many people here but i wanted to recognize maria who leads, i have been a fan of hers for standing up for the rights of individual people. she stood up for every human being. that is the kind of thing we need to do. we appreciate your print i also see the elected representative for the maryland state assembly. thank you for joining us here. i need to ask if anyone else elected, please let me know who so we can announce. i also want to thank jack, my friend who is taking pictures who has always been very encouraging and also my friend who is a well-known figure in
india, he has done lots of work in society. let me share about what the center for pluralism is all about. first let me define what pluralism is. pluralism is simply respecting others. you are who you are and i am who i am. that's how we were created, excepting uniqueness is pluralism broadly. when god created, or those who don't believe in god through evolution or big bang or whatever process it is, each one of us was created to be a very unique being. our own thumbprint, our own i print and unique dna. that's how unique we are. the creator, evolution or big
bang theory wanted us to remain and maintain that uniqueness, respecting that is simply pluralism. at the center for pluralism, we established in 2010, although the organization has been functioning since 1996. short story. in dallas texas there is thanksgiving square are almost the first of its kind in interface cultural. they say whether you join the square. i applied, everybody i knew there, but the next day kevin called me back, mike, i can't have you, we don't have a pigeonhole for you. i said what you mean by that. well, we don't have a pigeonhole for atheist but we
have one for muslim and hindu if you choose one of those we have you. i said no. this is not going to work. that's when we founded the foundation for pluralism to be including of every human being. nobody should be excluded from that. that's how the foundation for pluralism came to be. then later i did a lot of research to become muslim in the late '90s. : : :
let me give you an idea of why pluralism is critical. how does it function? what does it mean? individuals working together in the office, enjoying their happy and making jokes, six months down the road they decide to have a little time, why don't we go for lunch. so they decide to go to lunch. they go to the restaurant, order the food, they sit around the table, the food arrives. all of the sudden the differences emerge in front of
them. i'm going to exaggerate, there was a beef on one plate and a pig had to represent pork, vegetarian food, and chicken for the vegetarian person all the sudden gets upset, look guys you know i'm a vegetarian, how is sacred to me, you have this cow had sitting right in my face, how dare you, don't you care about me? are you that insensitive? do i mean anything to you? there was tension. the muslim and the jewish sky, one of them looked back at the other guy, look john, we don't eat pork. it's prohibited for us. you have this pig sitting on your plate, don't you have any respect for us? why did you order that food? everybody gets tense, they
finish the food, nobody talks, they joke and the mood is gone. they go back to work. now, at the same situation with pluralism. what happens next, imagine your christmas holiday or ramadan, any festival, little brother and sister are excited , the brother gets the ipad, sister gets the iphone, sister said cool you got the ipad you are talking about for the past three years. and he says i'm so glad you got the iphone. this attitude of enjoying the others brings us to the same dining table, same individual sitting there. all the sudden the food
arrives, the vegetarian person looks up and says i know you are eating the beef there, cow is sacred to me, i don't eat, but you've been talking about the stakes. i hope you enjoy the food. the jewish or muslim person says i don't eat pork, it doesn't matter, that's what i don't eat, but i hope you enjoy the porkchops that you were talking about. the mood is maintained. everybody happy again. and what does it do? it is respecting the difference of others. pluralism and cuisine makes you keep that taste. now go back to the workplace. one attitude with our pluralism and your battling inside, it's all under the
radar. it is tension between four people. when you learn to respect others, the tension has evaporated and you're enjoying working in the company is more productive. it's important for businesses to teach and preach pluralism because it increases productivity whether it is business, community, church or any place. once we accept each other, our god-given uniqueness for our genetic uniqueness for those who don't believe in god, then we have less and fewer problems. likewise, in relation, pluralism, in the worship standing and looking up to god or i'm kneeling or lie down on the floor, what difference does it make to anybody else read that is my way of worshiping. we can go back to the same
workplace. funny example, everyone goes to the bathroom, they come out, nobody asks what you did there. it's very private. likewise you can have a little corner for a muslim to go pray his prayer were jewish person to go pray or a hindu to go to their prayer. they can go pray and express their gratitude, come back, what difference does it make to anybody. this pluralism is applicable in every area of life. unfortunately it is not being taught anywhere. we are committed, determined to have an institution where we can teach pluralism and politics and religion, society, culture, cuisine, you name it. sometimes we have an attitude toward the other person, people hold instant budget is
to them that instant prejudice to them based on what they wear. why question of what do you have to lose. let's learn to respect the other. so my friends, that's about pluralism. if you visit the site, center for pluralism.com, even on the homepage, it shows what we do. there are workshops on religion. in each of the segments i mentioned there are four workshops. in religion we have a workshop where we teach 13 different religions from a point of view from atheism, we don't teach the theology. we teach what, if jesus says follow me for submit to me and vice versa, what does it mean
to the person who is not familiar with god or religion. we take it down to such simplicity that easy for people to understand the sense of religion, not the ritual. the more we learn about the other, the less conflict we have. the conflicts we have in the society, anyplace, conflict is because we don't know each other. what we know about the other is always the bad things. we learn about bad things about people more than we learn good things. even in our own clergy. no matter what religion you go. there are very few honest bishops, honest a mom, honest rabbis who can honestly tell
their religion is beautiful as my. somehow they have to put the other religions down or their religion up. this has got to go. this has got to change because religion is a personal choice, what difference does it make how you worship, how you call god. with that, i conclude i pluralism and what it is about. now i ask you to look at the program we have listed. we have a keynote speaker, he has held a broad range of positions in saudi media for nearly 30 years. he was the ceo at a pr firm and he was also the news anchor of the television in saudi.
he is highly regarded for his views and recently earned the highest civilian award in pakistan for his work in creating an intruding toward better society. two days ago last week he was honored in malaysia for his work in journalism and pluralism. we appreciate that and he is going to address the issue between saudi arabia. there are a lot of myths about saudi. he's also going to touch up on the relationship between india and pakistan. let me quickly share a short story of saudi arabia. i was there for four years back in 1977.
one of the best expenses i have had is a wonderful experience during the month of ramadan. the car stopped on the highway. it was burning. the air-conditioning was not running. it was hot hot hot. will try to stop the car to help me out but in saudi, like frank bird and germany, they have 120 or 140 miles. you wouldn't attempt to stop the car. it doesn't stop for a mile. i thought that was the last day. there's nothing more i could do.
finally a dotson pickup, nissan used to be called dotson, dotson pickup truck with a camel and a goat in the back stopped. it goes about half a mile, i was looking at it and i thought i don't have a choice. i had to sit with the goat and the camel and i had no other hope. i said let me do that. so he opened the door and he asked his wife to move toward him. i was up surprised because i thought he wouldn't do that. he did that. anyway we went home and he went to his home and he put a car outside, i slept and it was the month of ramadan and we all were fasting and at the time they eat he woke me up
and said you need to come join us. he had invited all his friends in the town and there was a long sheet over the food and we sat down and ate the food and afterward we sat outside and he gave me a little thing that you smoke. i couldn't but i had to because i was so gracious but i said i need to go back, i need to get my car. he said don't worry about it, the mechanic is bringing the car. he not only towed the car, he had it fixed and brought the car. i didn't know what to do. i said how do i pay you, how much do i pay you. he said no you don't have to pay anything. you have to make a promise and i said okay, what can i promise. he said from now on, if you see anyone stranded on the
roadside, if you help three people you have repaid me and i have followed that forever. it's an amazing way of spreading the good now i ask the doctor to share his story, and then you have question-and-answer period we will set up the microphone there. if you could face the audience this way, it would be on the camera as well. thank you very much. [applause] >> berry good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. thank you to mike for inviting me. he spoke about pluralism and i will be about bilateral is him. is that okay.
i'm going to speak that. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> thank you. of all the relationships of the world in the united states, the focus is always on saudi american relations, not much on other relationships, even though egypt is larger and there are some other more strategic countries in saudi. and in the area. saudi arabia and the united states engagement began on the
economic basis in the 1930s after the discovery of oil. i will go quickly and meander fast. in the 50s it was again a story of economic cooperation. in 1956 the suez war occurred and saudi arabia was astounded by what happened. for the first time when eisenhower stood up and there was a new policy. later on in 1958 the crisis in lebanon. [inaudible] these are all perceptions. whatever reaction whether his knee-jerk reaction or whether they do strategic policy reaction had to be within the format.
again we're both partners in the fight. we saw to it that form policies were aligned more by an act of omission than commission. nobody planned to do this with america. i had a student who were considered lackeys of the united states that we cannot do anything, uncle sam protects you, all these things. this is very unfair. we would never. [inaudible] the americans made cito, they were never just part of that
group. if we fast-track to today, this relationship again is based more on economy. the americans are playing a role in many american companies have come, but apart from that i think there's also healthy discussion. there is that bp still in the middle east. the saudi's are on record of saying despite what you read in the media, and i also take things with a pinch of salt at times even though i'm from the media that we have chosen ally ourselves and i think it's nonsense because we would not do anything, saudi arabia, that will go against interest of the palestinians because
yes there are backroom meetings, yes there are things going on between washington and saudi arabia, washington in egypt and others, but i doubt whether something will come out openly and say look, we want to impose, there's no way. even if you do that, i think people will reject it. any arab leader would not be able to do that. what is saudi arabia today? is it the saudi arabia of yesterday? i can tell you in the last few years there has been a change. it's not sudden that are opening up and talk about women driving and they are having about it. i don't think so. what is needed more is better
governments. i have believe many are positive changes but it would look very small to many of you are very trivial but if you have lived there and see what happens the last 30 years where the whole country was in the grip of an extremist ideology and it was more of a social command-and-control system where people would look at and have to subscribe i come and see young people coming in and more voices and i see people aspiring to be what and it asked me that
because 30 years it was just breathing. now i know that as a senior citizen i can breathe and let alone young people. of course it's not easy. it's going to take some time to settle down new ideas and do not expect there is no opposition in that we don't know the people proposing but there is a segment of population that opposes or is not up to happy with what is happening inside saudi arabia but i think it's a do or die situation. it had to be done because for 30 years when i was reporting in the media, those systemic chance of coming, there is
deep soul-searching in saudi arabia that could become a commodity of the past, that unless we change and take drastic action we would not be able to survive. i believe so. in the light of this more openness, culture, things are happening. against this is the involvement of women. more women are coming in, the average age of the bureaucrat has come down from 58 to 35. we have new people coming and 40% women coming. certain countries put those ethnic groups on the side like happened in south africa. it is not that women are
coming in, they're coming in to qualify people, people who will be participating. i think some of the things have happened in saudi arabia are really positive. we need to get together, the saudi people have to find out for themselves what their needs are, check on their aspirations and find how it coincides to have a saudi arabia that is diversified in this economic and social resources and come up to meet the challenges of the century, a world that is cruel and competitive and the political situation changes not by the month, it changes by the minute. we have to be on top of things. i really believe the young people of saudi are capable of handling, of course they do need guidance of others from
before them. in that light i think the relations have to be viewed, not all things we should be in alliance with the united states. we look inside and outside the region. thank you. [applause] >> we open the floor for questions. >> you can start coming up. i'll take this microphone. >> thank you very much. mike you started out talking about pluralism and respect for others, just focusing on the religion part, can you say
if it is allowed in saudi arabia today to have a church for christians or a synagogue for juice or if the shia minority has equal rights as the sunni majority and what about the atheists? why is he still in prison after four years when he was sentenced to ten years in a thousand lashes for promoting a liberal ideology and encouraging the state and religion to be separate. speaking of rife, why is his sister summer just been arrested when the crown prince tries to put himself forward as a liberal, spending a lot of saudi money on pr firms to give that impression, but then when he gave the women right
to drive, women have been fighting flat for decades, with he rounded up women like summer and put them in prison to send a message to the people of saudi arabia that he, the crown prince, 32 years old will be the one to judge the pace of change and not the saudi people themselves. thank you. >> do you want to answer that? let me answer the church part of it. in the u.s., the government is not involved in building churches. it's up to the individuals. i wrote an article when newt gingrich criticized this because one of the most read articles i have written. why should saudi government do a church? first of all they cannot allow
it. i've attended the mormon church when i was in saudi and there were congregations going on within, but with the problem is, if they allow someone to build the church, most people work working in saudi are migrant workers and they are there for two or three years and then gone. if when they are gone, who will maintain the church? if you put a building out there that is not maintained it will disappear. citizens were christians, then it makes sense, however i think the saudi king was talking with the catholic church to do something about it. government should not do anything. let people build it themselves if they want to and there are congregations in the catholic and mormon churches in saudi
when i was there. >> you cannot build a church or synagogue unless it is a public church in there are so many things that are perceived to be illegal including movies but i went to the movies in 1980. there are movies are a around. in the past five or six months there are so many archbishops with their robes and crosses, i think there's been a change. i spoke about 30 years of ideology, they spoke about sunni and shia, even the sunnis had no idea that banning women from driving, it was there before and other issues. things are on the change but i like to look at this as a positive step. rome was not built in a day. i truly believe that you will be seeing more and more
changes. when the first person, the crown prince visited was to meet the eastern european church, the coptic church in egypt. the head of the church, mennonite church from lebanon visited. you would have never had these things before. i would say give peace a chance and i think we should give the present situation a chance evolving of things i truly believe that optimism is the only solution. there are many things going on, i agree with you about some of the other instances you have spoke about. what people are clamoring for a more liberal society, remember these people also helped before he came.
i'm not trying to rationalize that. i believe you will be hearing new things in. : : : anecdotal stories of ice is using saudi textbooks. rome was not built in a day but the kingdom has said they been to be reviewing these and getting rid of the language for over ten years, yet reports by the state department, other reliable ngos had said that even out the language is still not gone. if we're going to talk about maybe pluralism made we can start in schools and we can talk
about the ideology underpinning this. the language is not gone anywhere. it's gotten worse. so i would ask about that. >> tyler. >> i agree with you but you see i have personally seen in the last two years many of the things that have been heard for the textbooks have been taken again as i said 30 years of infiltration infiltrating the minds of people, going to the dna. as i said it can be done within a day. so many things have moved out. i am at times and bears to see things written that a total alien to my own religion. not only other religions, attacking the people here once you look at it, there's a high committee for education, things moving on and this is what i'm
saying give a chance so in that spirit of time, next you will be crucial for us we can go round and remedy the errors, mistakes, the enforcement action that it happened before. [inaudible] >> it's been going on for ten years. >> the conference has been there for only a year and a half. again i'm not defending. i'm just telling you that in this one and half years, many things tha have happened. some of them are not milking the public but believe you me, someone who is a liberal, who is plural in many ways, i truly believe. this is a country saudi arabia you talk about against other religion who from in the '70s had the ambassador and the permanent representative to the united nations, a catholic christian used to go to st. patrick's church every sunday. and it was just a whole thing
that changed. nations have times were you have dark ages, areas of oppression and oppression. you have people and that since. imagine a country intellect and 76 as a catholic ambassador. suddenly from 1980-2000 something is going down the drain. thanks on a changing back again. [inaudible] >> if you are in russia, china, whatever country it is, if you see the news about america, what's happening in america, is that the america we want? what is happening is the public wants, bikeways and saudi, the public wants something else. the government is doing something else. in a democracy are not
representing the will of the people. in the monarchy, the changes are coming but not at the pace that we want. it's coming and we are willing to fix our house, too. >> jack, coo of a major television network in afghanistan. what about president trump's visit to saudi arabia? do you think his trip sort of spark a new crown prince to do think that normally he might not do? >> i think this is an overkill, his visit to saudi arabia. trump came to, some kind of formula. i think this was in the offing. the reforms and saudi arabia have been continuous reforms over the past seven decades. they have been slow in some areas, fast in some areas but president trump sunda something started to move. i think the genuine aspiration
of both leadership and the people is we have to be. also the economic success in the background that we have to move and play a bigger role. again, in the conference, the interview with bloomberg he has said that. the mistakes of the past have to be remedied. i mean, you have the soviet union for 80 years and nobody spoke about communism as much as they do about us now. we had 30 years of, let's say, dark clouds looming over the horizon and said to get somebody who's trying to do something. so i would put my hands with him and try to see we erase some of the mistakes of the past and some of the misperceptions that are uttered about us. >> hello. i'm with codepink. the other day after the southeast cold bloodedly murdered to those children in a
school bus, i went to the senate foreign relations committee and i had a talk with some of it just come back from riyadh. and he said basically that it was his conclusion that the saudi government was basically saying at you, that when it going to do these, we're not going to do investigations. these investigations are for us. even though in, many were saying why investigate? saudi arabia admits to bombing the school bus full of children. i know you must've seen the images, the video images. it may be sick to my stomach. and that just wondering, with all the talk about purchasing of weapons and the u.s. logistics and the u.s. offering to fuel planes, you see like an unholy alliance? bombing yemen back to the stone age that's causing one of the
greatest human catastrophes in the world right now, call the that's never been seen before -- colorado -- from a poor poor country -- colorado. and is it possible this was a cause because yemen was heading towards a democracy and that saudi did not want to see a democracy on the arab peninsula? >> i will start with the last point that you raise. i think, and i'm talking as an analyst. yemen was inter-human tribal warfare for years. when elections happened, the houthis came in and took over by force. there were many peace delegations in the arab league. [inaudible] >> elections had been going on but what happened is the houthis
took over and i would tell people who knew the houthis just to back down come have dialogue. you can't have dialogue, the other chair is empty. speaking about arms, if it on his arms, you can't buy them. so who is in cahoots with who? if i may tell you that. i said if you don't sell arms, if i don't get a chance to buy a rifle, i will not buy a rifle. i am not at all justifying the war in yemen. no war is clean. it is that these things are happening. it is sad but you just cannot blame one section and say that they use any word or anything about the others because he can like it is important. a neighbor. we have to live with yemen. in kuwait also it is -- there are elections and right now saudi arabia is going through process were one day you will see that the elected members are
elected. i think there is a societal progress in saudi arabia. yes, there are events happening that are totally out of control. it's not only due to the local powers. it's also do two recent powers, breed total lack of any empathy for human life and other issues that have created that situation in yemen. i don't claim to be an expert in yemen but believe you me, this intertribal rivalry that is going on really created part of the problem. >> if you have not gotten involved you would not have this level of destruction. the vast majority of the citizens killed, the infrastructure destroyed is coming from the saudi bombings and it was your very liberal crown prince because the saudis involved in internal dispute in side yemen. >> the coalition that they had made the was and international
coalition so i don't think so. i'm not against absolving anyone of blame. i totally believe it is loss of life, which only talk about yemen was the other area, of eddies around the globe. again, two wrongs don't make a right. it's unfair to just blame the studies. it consists of the uae and other countries. as you said, fueling the plane come from britain, from the usa. so we cannot just think a point at one country or one action. >> it was very illuminating to listen to you, sir. i have, i work on indian and u.s. policies. i worked in india for a very,
very long time. i do research on indian issues. india is a large democracy, and it's always compared with u.s., the oldest policy when of the largest democracies in the world. one of the claims of the democracy is where does your ultimate decision-making of policy rest? who makes those decisions wax saudi arabia in no less terms can be classified a as a small country because it is huge resources. it has a large, vast landmark. it has fewer people but it has substantially well-known, well-recognized war power, so to speak. so what i'm trying to understand is, in the decision-making process, what is the role of institutions? what is the role of, for
example, in a democracy there are three basic wings, so to speak, the legislature, and you have an administration which is independent of the legislature, and then you have the judiciary. three most important parts of decision-making. i know in the new age, the technology in media has become the fourth estate, fourth pillar of the decision-making models, to bring transparency into decision-making. can you foresee, because i know unwinding next time, it's not easy to move away the decision-makers, so to speak. now, do you see a scope for the democratic institutions to take
roots in saudi arabia? that's number one. and the second thing is what is the role of civil society? what is the role of people to people? do you a as a saudi citizen, asn independent person, can your wife beater by somebody else other than -- so you are media more or less i like to know more about what kind of influence media can bring. the last point is i'm a bit surprised that when the arab spring last five, seven years has literally brought major changes, why is that arab saudi arabia was insulated to those kind of happenings which happened in other parts of india? >> starting from the end, i think saudi arabia is insulated not because of the revenue
because that plated chemo because of level of policy, the level of hardship of the people felt was much less an economic policy as oil prices have gone up. that cushion assembly. at the same time i saw how the new evolutionary methodology was established with the powers that be. loosening up several key issues in terms of women's issues, in terms of business. democracy was unfettered and people allowed to do things. this helped us. whatever one may say, you see in the final lens that's all about economics, egypt, tunisia, morocco, yemen and all and for joy didn't have the resources to cushion themselves against uprisings and all. here there was and started making more and more leeway for
people to come and talk and discuss issues so that helped us. concerning as you said people think that is an absolute monarchy that the king can do anything. again inotropic there are the liberals, there are for use the majority, the sheikhs rebelled. i don't like to call them religious people. i called an extremist. we have to call a spade a spade. they had sway over education, over society. now it is. remember, frankenstein was a doctor, not the monster. he re-created these people in the arab world. we created because we thought this was the way. and again if you go five steps ahead, why did this happen? it's not being simplistic. it's created these people were asked to go and fight. when he went down there, the
jihadist, there was no such thing as agility in the arab world which was a very secular world. i'll talk about saudi arabia, forget the other side because we want people -- this was a country where christians were ambassadors. not one. there were many the people were coming and that's what happened. as far as going back to what you said about the judiciary at all, there is a security council. it is working. i noticed it. there are elections. a few things they rejected and certifications as you said, they stepped in. there was a law that was a bit anti-women and a couple few years ago the government stepped in and said no. it should be this. harassment at all this. i truly believe, i mean, i have no other option. 747 with the pilot. we as passengers have to advise the pilot what to do, turbulence so we just can't moan and complain. things are not that straight. there are many things that need
to be done. i agree with you that we would like certain things but you don't have a magic wand anywhere in the world. you don't have that, so extremist ideology is now slowly in the background. ten years, as a general but said, yes, it was dead. we knew it was. people spoke about these things but now people are speaking against the openly voicing. plans governments have delete. top of the people. governments, democracy of whether you are the peoples will. that's why i'm telling you frankly and with all the humility, i am very optimistic about things happening. it may not happen at the pace that's happening here. there are many thinks they need to be exercised in many parts of the world but i truly believe that we are setting a course. saudi arabia was like a cruise ship. you can't turn around
90 degrees. you have to go about 100 miles and then turned around so you can't do that. this is how i describe saudi arabia today, but that is the young people coming in. there is the thing of tolerance that you spoke about. that is, spoke about building up things, yes, there have been so many congregations inside. people come in and people -- who would've thought the archbishops and popes of the eastern church would come into saudi arabia and of the people. who would've thought that interfaith dialogue happening in saudi arabia held by the government with the saudi government has spent last amounts -- large amounts of money having a big organization in the end of our rabbis, priests, imams sit together or buddhist monks are there. i sat with him at a given that rabbits of israel and from other
people, and thought that this is a start start. so let's have the chance to consolidate on some of these positive aspects that are emerging. >> rabbi rosen, i believe he is the chief rabbi of israel. he was part of the interfaith dialogue and, in fact, the saudi king assigned the rabbi, i believe the priest, to form the interfaith dialogue, and it started in dallas, texas, by the way. the education minister came to dallas, called the company said i want to have an interfaith dialogue with the jews and christians. i said no, i want to have for all religions. he said very eloquently, at saudi arabia this time i only understand christianity and judaism. i don't know about other
religion. why don't we do this first and then we'll take the next step? and several years later king abdullah i believe set up the interfaith dialogue in spain. king abdullah, and that is continuing. a big progress. also, you want to talk about, you mentioned secular saudi arabia. can you talk about that? >> yes. again, it goes down within the perimeter of the new saudi arabia where people are focusing more on people rather than backgrounds and faith, they were not trying to sort of like people are so-called religious ideologies but now they are talking about new ideas, new face, new things and it is being taught. visitors are coming up. you have music coming in and
arts, culture from all over the world from greece and here and there. and as you mentioned david rosen who i have met so many times, this was king abdullah's initiative for the saudi settlement paid not talk about paying money in vienna but in madrid. i think this i this is a good s. people don't know, the media also covers a lot of these interfaith projects that the saudi government does. this should come in the forefront. >> have. i am chairperson national center for women entrepreneur. i have a couple of questions. i see too many -- [inaudible] >> okay. i see too many restrictions on women in saudi arabia.
so would you think it's a tradition of religion that's holding back women? and the question is that, what's your strategy to bringing all faiths together, and especially >> that strategy and leave to him. but seriously speaking, there are many, we have just spoken about, i don't know what you heard it, the institute in vienna. there will be one set and time will come the meeting in riyadh. these things are being done but not reported. me, david rosen met king abdullah and shook his hand and they took a picture. that never came in any newspaper in europe. why is that? so it portrays us as anti-others? that picture never -- four times he met. it never happened. as far as restrictions, talk about restrictions of women. everybody says there are
restrictions on women. [inaudible] >> what? driving? [inaudible] >> that i think is wrong. that i think is under the belt. ibis trunks full duplex so that doesn't affect me. i have been a great supporter of women a as a father of three gis who graduated from university with masters degree. i asked them if it in a restrictions? previously in their generations, yes. guardianship is a thing of the past. there's technology when women can go and she can get married. [inaudible] >> they can travel to the usa. i never asked if he did ask her. did you get permission from the husband to travel?
[inaudible] >> that's not true. used to be but that's not the case right now. >> i have a friend, just happen. >> it boils down to culture. let me tell you one thing. there are women who -- [inaudible] again, a thing of the past. i'm telling you again a thing of the past. i just came five days ago from there. the other thing, you talk about, they made a mistake with the head job and all. it has nothing to do with religion. i was flooded with questions. why do force women to cover their face? how many saudi women here are covered, played some saudi arabia? the other one is in there and these two. there are cultural perceptions in saudi arabia that are perceived as religion. there are areas in saudi arabia, yes, who follow certain dictates, you know, about the way of life. but by and large are now in the
last two years okay, to quote the crown prince, as i said he said this, doesn't have to be likely to have to wear it. but things are moving. as women indigent wide you you when it? because my husband works in the saudi arabia and the gulf and judgment? no. you don't have to. the mixture between religion and culture and ancient customs, you see, is causing this misleading thing about. >> i certainly agree there's a lot to the issue of culture, how do you explain that just in the last couple of weeks alone some of the most important women's activists have been fighting for the right to drive in fight against the guardianship system, which they say is a reality, why have they been put in prison? and what talk specifically, i want you to answer, by the crown
prince had a reaction that is so extraordinarily over the top when, in a tweet the canadians said we are concerned about the women's activists and think they should not be imprisoned, and the crown prince reacted by recalling the ambassador, like cutting off trade, by saying that canadians, that saudi students in canada would have to leave, placing the people getting treatment and hospitals and saudi arabia would have to leave, by canceling flights to canada. this is insanity. and somewhat to know if women are so free, why is samir and the others in prison and why is the government reacting in such a strong way to a tweet about human rights? and what is in the u.s. government and all the other western democracies standing up
and saying canada is absolutely right and those women should be freed? [applause] >> welcome you answered your question and none of the people from the western countries that said, i think what upset, this is my figuring out, this is an investor who did it from the capital. it was first treated by the foreign ministry in ottawa. then i think what bug people as well, this is my conjecture, the audacity of the spending in the city and the ambassador to do that. this is my reading of the thing. i'm not justifying become trying to rationalize the whole issue. if you have an ambassador -- [inaudible] >> welcome you can look at in different ways. people are asking, okay, i have said before two wrongs don't make a right but why are the tweeting about human rights abuses, abuses happening in gaza or palestine?
no one has tweeted that in canada or sober. i'm just telling you what the people feel, their views. nobody is justified. i'm not batting for anyone. i'm just trying to figure out myself, the reaction that happened. the solution is maybe because it happened because the ambassador was sitting right in the capital city of the country and he said this when it could've been done to other diplomatic channels as is been done regarding the detention of several people. >> i am running for u.s. senate. we are talking about -- [inaudible] and i think your idea is very good except everybody is,
anybody else. but i think in this society it is very simple. we have to be more complicated in the sense because a lot of what i call simple -- [inaudible] general public, every person. so what we have to do is really tell those people who need help, don't do anything that's not good to other people. confucius are ancient chinese or indian or hindu, they are very good philosophies. you just have to be kind enough to help of the people and have to follow your values. now we are talking about democracy and capitalism. that's very skeptical, and human rights, human rights. if that is so why you send ambassador incarceration there? most are innocent.
why do you have to send to a chill is somebody behind you who tried to bribe officials, maybe saudi arabia, the prince send -- to a charity foundation to certain candidates? so we want to do is do something -- if prince can do those million dollars, per the process of election, that would be good. my question, can we do something to improve democracy, and proven they human rights rather than just have something so the, just something on the air you still cannot reach it. we say america is for human rights but actually america is no human rights at all. america has free-floating or something on this. this is all rhetoric.
we must do something right so we will not be just every day struggling to see somebody sent to jail, families are divided and you cannot see your children date overnight. you have two or three jobs. you cannot even survive but somebody else, they just use the government raising money and enriching themselves. >> let me clarify a few things here. pluralism, something they are working on. aye on sean hannity show. that doesn't mean -- aye on -- that doesn't mean i liking. i work with extremes and liberals but my position doesn't -- pluralism a work in progress. where working on it. just because i'm supporting or
being with someone doesn't mean i'm with them. here's saudi arabia is making a big effort in the last year and half to two years and really we need to acknowledge that under the big hand for that. it's not the change that we want. writer in the united states this operation of children that's going on, it is not the will of the american people. still it's happening. something is happening in saudi arabia. it is not necessarily the will of the people. the will of the governance. we need to work through all these issues it is just that saudi. in the united states i democracy, we're going against the will of the people. we need to change about that. so i just wanted to share that. now, back to you. >> there are issues, i do agree. the only way one can get ahead through is dialogue and try to understand each other. we cannot solve -- people get
aghast when, peoples are killed in school but they don't lend america. i don't because i know individual acts. i'm all for dialogue between religions, a tweet people but believe me if that could happen overnight. the purging of the books as a friend said, it doesn't happen. you have to have a high-powered committee sifting through page by page. they even go through translations of holy books. you did know which one was the correct one and which one was the fake one. so it is going to take time, but all i'm saying is there is a star in saudi arabia. we just need some understanding. i don't want somebody to condone what's happening. i do want anyone to give excuses for what's happening there, but only what is just to see to it that the things that are happening to rectify these massive errors of the past should be given some grace.
it's not tangiers, maybe few months but i can assure you that there's a major start that has happened. >> have though. i'm from georgetown university, and my question is more geared towards the u.s.-saudi relations. as a student currently i am paying probably something outrageous like 7 7% student los in the u.s. and so i understand that in saudi arabia a lot of the students have the opportunity to study abroad and perhaps even study in the u.s., someone scholarships and that as such. my question is how do you think the u.s. and saudi convert from each other in terms of education and that matter? >> entrants of education, the exchange of education students, not many people know that there are several delegations figure that are coming in from war
colleges, cadet colleges. they come from saudi arabia. we know more about them than you know about is because of the phobia of giving visas which was again a problem of a long entry to saudi arabia. you hardly get one journalist for another. now any month you have ten to 12 to 15 to 20 journalists from all major networks and all newspapers, this is what is going to happen. i truly believe people do people trust and understanding would go much more than having people from the state department or from government to visit. >> i'm one of the members of the interfaith coalition in maryland. the question i have, i change is not easy. i've been to saudi arabia about
a decade ago so i'm sure there are changes. i've seen the things and i agree with you. but what as an american muslim we can do? because you know what, if you stay in a closed room and keep on talking, no one is going to hear you. there's a word called duet and publicize it. so you will not bring an average person talk to them, it will not happen. you can have all those meetings. i understand you're talking about shaking hands with everybody. i have about 15 you relationship with baltimore jewish council. i have a good relationship with my local churches. being a muslim and a devoted muslim, i have a very good relationship with those people. but the only reason it happened, because they came out and i met those people. so now they feel so comfortable that they personally invite me to their events. but if we stay in close doors,
we can all talk but we need to walk. the walk only will happen if you put the people of an average person who is involved and they can understand the hurdles. because sitting behind a desk, a lead me, you can do nothing push a pencil. that's my question. what we can do as americans and american muslims to help you to promote peace and open up the orders for the saudi arabia people. because wearing hijab is not islamic. my question is what we can do to bring some kind of openness to saudi arabian society? >> i think it would be difficult to get somebody into that for somebody else. i think with the saudi are doing, they are doing it themselves. the saudis are doing it and doing themselves but opening up
society, by coming up at the right time. the government has said before the conclusions that they arrived at in the islamic teachings of certain people of the past, in these harbingers of hatred which is ever. no one speaks about india. where they just killed and hanged people because they eat beef. it's worse human rights become lease you do not find in saudi arabia people of the face being literally torched. you said about -- i mean, i her the words -- [inaudible] i don't know whether there were crucified but i can assure you it was not a non-muslim. whatever it did, but they have not attacked people of other faiths as is happening elsewhere. [inaudible] >> right now -- [inaudible]
>> how can you assume that one is an atheist? i'm trying to figure out how do you know what i am, whether i may -- or somebody? [inaudible] well, i'm not prone to being hit anyway. that's decide the point. the point is intelligent things are moving. they may not be moving as fast and correct as one wants them come and attend i'm not batting for anyone. what we would like to see that some of the chanc chance of the. you talked about shia. the head of aramco never heard of -- unheard of before. the shia community. i hate to use the word faith. the head of -- [inaudible] was appointed recently by the crown prince. this is a start, i agree with you this hard-core ideological who scoff at of the people.
they scoffed at muslims like us also who did not did not belong with in that frame with a beard and short dresses and all. we were also victims but for 30 years we were the forefront. the government has stopped them. as for shia when you said there was a background, more and more people coming in the council there are shiites and others. this young man, the crown prince has realized this, that you have to have which is at a pluralistic society. you cannot exist and you cannot hold on if you do not let go and allow people of different faiths and cultures, different -- you know, this is the intellect of the mind, a vessel that existed that is not something of the
past. >> is it possible to publish of what was discussed? >> it is there on tape. it is being broadcast live as i speak to you. [inaudible] yes, we -- it is broadcast life as i speak to you. if you don't want to believe, i always believe sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and ensure you're not a self -- >> the guy that -- >> is in this broadcast live? its life. >> not on a saudi station. >> yeah, but saudi stone stations in english. they can watch, i watched about 50000 tv channels sitting in my bedroom from fox do anything with this tv antenna. you can go anywhere and watch anything. >> do you have a press conference for an event like this in saudi arabia? >> it is already being reported by certain people. >> you have events like this?
>> yes. [inaudible] >> i don't want you to. [inaudible] >> you can never have an event like this. >> i don't want you, i just want you to put all these events within the timeframe of the last two, two and half years. i'm not concerned about what happened in 1945 are what happened in the first world war. >> when saudi arabia sent hundreds of tanks into bahrain and shut down a peaceful nonviolent protest of come within their own country -- >> that picking the seven years the crown prince. either way, technically i agree. technik -- [inaudible] >> you understood impression of the khalifa family. >> technically again the arab league, secretary jewell has to energy. i was at the behest of the ruling group down there.
but again seven years ago. [inaudible] >> he was not kidnapped. he arrived in saudi arabia. he still has his company going on and he comes and goes. i would just like to come for you to understand, not to believe me, not to understand that i would like to speak about the last two years after happening. there are many things, i agree with you, that were wrong. many things that were not correct. [inaudible] >> okay. >> the rest of women activists all happened in the last two weeks. >> these are all very good questions. what it wante want to ask is, ie is someone with a question different? we have been addressing the same question in so many ways. let of the questions the also answered. is there any other question? who has a question?
lets wait. who has not asked? you already asked. come on up. we want to make sure we addressed as much as we can, as much as we know. >> i'm with americans for democracy. i kind of have a twofold question. part of it is for the center for pluralism. i like the idea, my question is more come is the room for calling out say a bad idea, like imprisoning women for wanting to drive? or are you just going to say well, that's their culture or something like that? and the second is, do you think it's still okay for countries, like canada, to ask questions
and say they're concerned about human rights? or are you just going to go through the motions like, well, there's optimism, there's change. let's not ask questions. i guess my main concern is are you using small changes to basically cover for violations that are continuing, or issues, et cetera? that's my question. thank you. >> i think the question is a very basic human right, and that nobody can take away anything. free will, free speech is a god-given right. i wish you a little story. when god created adam, also believe in that story, god gave choice to adam. adam, if you eat this fruit, there are consequences. if you don't eat, you get to stay here in the heavens. so what does adam do?
he was, he chooses to eat the fruit. when he eats the fruit the system starts working ne and hao go to the bathroom. god didn't tell them there's no bathroom in paradise. so this man is confused what to do. god says, look, we had a deal with you. if you eat the fruit you will be kicked out, and that's exactly what we're going to do. you will be kicked out of the habit. you can go to earth, do whatever you want to do. the angels argued with god. god, this is not fair. you could've slapped adam, stopped him from eating the fruit. poor guy, he is suffering because you did not care to stop in. god looks back, look, i am the god. i gave him a choice, didn't i? if i gave him a choice, he selected the choice that worked for him.
i should as a god honor that choice. he then tells the angels, from here on every progeny of adam and eve will be embedded with the dna of free will. everybody has the free will. free will is important. without questioning, nothing will progress in the world. the liberalism and progressivism with question that has brought us this far. if you are conservative, you still would've lived in the caves. thank you. >> i will just in that by saying one thing and people ask questions, again i said i speak my mind your the thing that it want to say is one book applies to all, not to be selective in human rights abuses in one places while overlooking worse things happen in other place. i'm not taking offense by to wish all these people would look at each of the countries are talking about and then say that,
and we all agree. human rights is is are happening everywhere. nobody is just find it in any country, but i think you just have to flip the pages and see and then start tweeting about other countries and then come up with it down the line. thank you. >> we are going to wind up. keep the question sharp and precise and you get a precise answer. fair enough. we have three people and we pull conclude with that. >> saudi arabia to me, indian muslim, it appears that 1.5 billion muslims of all denominations, so what happens in saudi arabia is going to influence the whole muslim community all over the world? all over the world. so the question is related to
that, the policies of saudi arabia will influence about 1.5 billion muslims. now, the issue of can there be a debate or discussion as to how saudi ideology of the future changes that are taking place, it appears to me that changes are in bits and pieces. you allow women to drive. there are many, many other reforms which are needed within the muslim community all over the globe. is it possible for you as a very important communicator both to the saudi as well as to muslims and non-muslims around the world, is it possible to conceive of the feeding platform?
maybe he could be located in the united states right here in washington, d.c., or it could be located elsewhere, but a debating platform for people who are sitting here, and many other people who are not present here but you would like to be on that debating platform, and generate academic analytical literature so the book writers like the one who was sitting there can benefit from it? >> i'm not here so i don't know but i'm sure our organizations. we just spoke about interfaith organizations across the globe. apart from that there are so many other organizations, women organizations, means organizations who will be innovative position. just to let you know, we do not influence the muslim world. the muslim world, if you go to malaysia where i was last week, that's a different type of
islamic precepts and indonesia. it will give us more about we actually are. each country and each community should look to its own and see what are the needs, what are the parameters that they're working. in america you act different than you would in malaysia or in singapore or in china. >> we connect dialog based on the need. there was a need for many people who wanted to understand the relationship between the u.s. and saudi, and we set this up. if there is any other question you have about any other dialogue, if you let us know we can organize dialogue. at the in all we want to do is have dialogue. dialogue brings to the fore the differences and the ideas to understand each other, not to convert or change each other.
next question. >> thank yothank you very much. speaking of pluralism which is important, everyone agrees, and part of increasing pluralism is having an independent civil society, right? organizations like your own who can go around and hold conferences, engage people, grassroots. frankly speaking saudi arabia doesn't have an independent civil society. it simply doesn't exist. and so how do you engage in foster dialogu a dialogue when s an independent civil society? dialogue is critically important. when you have an independent interlocutor like that how can you begin such a dialogue? [inaudible]
>> i am just one of many. there are many of us were working day and night. >> can you name names. >> with the army societies if you go, you are working in the state department. you can just google and get names of association. there are other associations. there are -- [inaudible] >> no, they are not. other places. so just to say that civil society does not exist i think is very untrue. [inaudible] >> i think to say confidently that it does exist means that we have not done enough research. sin be an e-mail. i will share with you every place where people, she went to live, there civil society. there was always one individual who wants to bring peace and who wants to talk about it. in the u.s. we have many people
who speak, that their voices are not hurt. it is the same with all countries. what we need to do is appreciate these positive changes, each place is doing, it is not satisfactory to you and me, but for then it is a major step in that than continue with that. [inaudible] >> okay, thank you. >> so this is related very much and very important in terms of the evolution, and i hope you're right that society is moving towards a better place. the issue of society, a lot of groups that tried to get the stamp of approval to have an official organization have had it for a while and taken away from them. one of the best groups is one of lawyers who had been trying to get the constitution. and they say that saudi arabia is one of the only absolute monarchies left in the world.
and if it is going to evolve in a nonviolent way it has to evolve whether it is a constitution and thin people are allowed the freedom of association and a lack of elections at the national level. so are you giving in saudi arabia not just reforms that are from the top down but reforms to the constitution and a real vibrant civil society and where people could have national elections? >> changes -- i have noticed is that counsel that is the religious council, there were no women in the council until two years ago. now there are women. there are women mayors -- [inaudible] >> there has to be a start somewhere. [inaudible] >> it's not an absolute monarchy in the sense that anything can be done immediately.
there is going to be a roadmap for so many new reforms that are coming up, some of them are not in a position to state but by and large these things are going on. that's what you said i have a happy face. that's why i'm here talking about them and telling you what all i'm hearing, that the saudi arabia of tomorrow will be different from the saudi arabia five years ago. >> any other questions you have? if not we can conclude. give you a few seconds. [inaudible] >> well, thank yo thank you ver. i appreciate each one of you, and thanks c-span, and thanks our congressmen for sponsoring this event. thanks for helping secure this room. we just had last week, no, the end of july, we had a scriptural
reading here we had a rabbi, and imam, a pastor who started. the question was do the scriptures act to the conflict in these societies or do they bring harmony? so it was a very difficult question for the rabbi to answer. we are the chosen people. muslims believe god islam is the only active religion to them. to me god cannot be a little guy. god cannot make deals with you behind my back. god cannot make deals with muslims behind the back of jews, or with jews, behind the back of muzzles. god is an honest guy. he doesn't do any of that. what we've done, we as a society have greater our own thing that is needed so the next month we have hinduism and islam, the myths about each other.
and in november we are going to have ten faiths trying to get the myths in the front. the ultimate goal is when we learn the myths, when we learned about each other as humans, most of the conflicts fade and solutions emerge. again, pluralism simply means we are respecting the otherness of others and accepting the god-given uniqueness for those who believe in god, genetic uniqueness. those who don't believe in god. so if you respect that uniqueness you made it. thank you very much and thanks again to c-span. [applause] >> the senate is about to gavel in. they will start considering the nomination of lynn johnson to be assistant health and human secretary for family support. about to limit debate and
advanced that nomination set for 5:30 p.m. we expect senators to come to the floor and pay tribute to republican senator john mccain who passed away at his home in arizona saturday at the age of 81. live coverage now from the senate floor here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations,