Following are excerpts from an interview with liberal Saudi intellectual Dr. Tawfiq Al-Saif, which aired on Rotana Khalijiyya TV, on July 17, 2013:
Tawfiq Al-Saif: Our country – like any other country – belongs to all its citizens, whoever they are. If there were a Christian Saudi, this country would still be his country. If a Saudi leaves the fold of Islam, becoming an apostate, he remains a Saudi citizen. The state should deal with its citizens not on the basis of sectarian considerations, but on the basis of their being citizens. An extremely religious citizen is jut like the citizen who is sinful, a citizen who is not at all religious, or even a non-Muslim citizen. They all have equal rights and obligations in the eyes of the law.
Interviewer: Do you think there is discrimination in this respect?
Tawfiq Al-Saif: Yes, I do, albeit not on sectarian grounds. There is discrimination in all the Arab and Islamic countries, including Iran.
What I wanted to say is that most countries in the Arab and Islamic world suffer from this problem.
Interviewer: From discrimination...
Tawfiq Al-Saif: Here in Saudi Arabia, as well as in Iraq, and even in Egypt... The secular state of Egypt, under Hosni Mubarak, and before him under Sadat, practiced sectarian discrimination, against the Copts. Sudan discriminated against the South Sudanese, until Sudan was partitioned. The same goes for Algeria and Morocco, as well as secular Tunisia. As for Syria, we all know what is going on there. All Arab countries practice discriminatory policies, or prevent any attempt of "the other" to enjoy equal rights. It is these policies that breed hatred.