The embassy of Saudi Arabia in the German capital has been decorated with an DAESH flag and labeled the “Daesh Bank” in a projection stunt performed by human rights activists in an effort to draw attention to the kingdom’s purported links to terrorist organizations.
Artist Oliver Bienkowski and the Pixel Helper collective performed the stunt to draw public attention to Saudi Arabia’s egregiously bad human rights record and country’s alleged support of extremist groups like DAESH (ISIS).
Although Saudi Arabia plays one of the key roles in the US-led coalition aimed at eradicating DAESH, the kingdom has faced criticism from its western allies for not making enough of an effort in the fight against terrorism.
The kingdom has been regularly accused of supporting and financing various extremist groups serving their interests in the region. A 2009 memo published by WikiLeaks revealed that Hillary Clinton, who was back then the US Secretary of State, said that Saudi Arabia had been financing DAESH, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
In the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia has been backing a group of opposition factions, some of which are known to be closely cooperating with internationally recognized terror groups like Al-Nusra and DAESH. It is also commonly believed that Wahhabism, a strict form of Islam promoted inside Saudi Arabia as well as via its government programs abroad, has indirectly encouraged the rise of DAESH.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of indirectly creating DAESH through the propagation of its fundamentalist Wahhabist interpretation of Islam.
Another projection that lit up the walls of the embassy stated “10 years and 1000 slashes just for blogging #FREERAIF,” referring to the blogger Raif Badawi who was imprisoned for criticizing Saudi clerics and appealing for a more liberal and secular society in his blog. He has already spent four years behind the bars.
The verdict triggered international concern for Badawi’s health and a wave of protests around the world. He went through a medical check-up after the first 50 lashes he received in January last year and was found unfit to have any more.
There is renewed pressure for the release of the unpublished 28 pages in the official Congressional 9/11 report on possible Saudi official complicity in the attacks, with CBS’s influential and widely watched 60 Minutes devoting a segment to it, thereby putting it back on the political agenda. “Saudi Arabia legitimises Islamic extremism and intolerance around the world,” states an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. “”If you want to stop bombings in Brussels or San Bernardino, then turn off the spigots of incitement from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.” Not only is there a growing anti-Saudi mood in the US, but it is one of the few political developments common to both parties.
In reality, the missing 28 pages in the 9/11 report on possible high level Saudi involvement may not be as categorical or as damaging to the Kingdom as the fact of their continued non-publication. The secrets that Saudi Arabia has most interest in hiding may be rather different, and relate to allegations that between 1995 and 2001, two senior Saudi princes spent hundreds of millions of state funds paying off Osama bin Laden not to make attacks within Saudi Arabia, but leaving him free to do whatever he wanted in the rest of the world.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, although no US investigation to date has reported finding evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 attacks.
Saudi Arabia has long been criticised for its harsh social codes and punishments, imposed under its puritanical version of Sharia law.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in February 2012 when he was just 17 and accused of organising protests. He was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion, along with his uncle, a leading Shia cleric. Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said last month he did not expect the sentence to be carried out. However, murderers, drug dealers and others convicted on purely criminal charges are often beheaded in public.
While women did in 2105 get to register to vote and can stand for local elections, they are still required to have permission from a “guardian” such as a father, husband or brother to travel freely. Wearing modest clothes and a headscarf in public is compulsory. They are also banned from driving – subject of the country’s most visible civil disobedience campaign in recent years.
The regime in Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized by human rights organizations.
Saudi Arabia has been compared to Daesh for long time now, especially for their support of terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Hashtags #SueMeSaudi and #SaudiArabiaIsISIS has many hits every minute, and many want to mark their opposition and to show their distance to the brutal dictator regime in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia practice Wahhabism ideology, a strictly fundamentalist orientation within Sunni Islam, which in practice is the state religion in the country. It is also ideology direction that has inspired al-Qaida and DAESH.