In his May 13 column, Tariq al-Homayed (Alhomayed), the editor-in-chief of the London-based pan-Arabic (and English) daily newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, a quasi "official" newspaper owned by Saudi prince Salman bin 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Sa'ud, the kingdom's founder, criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran for its arrest of Iranian-American (and dual citizen) Roxana Saberi. She was charged with spying for the U.S., apparently (and this was generally not reported in the U.S. media) because she possessed a classified document on the U.S. and British invasion and occupation of Iraq. Her lawyer claimed that she had not "used it," though even in the U.S. the possession of classified material is a crime, not just the use of such materials. Nonetheless, the Iranian government has often used such temporary detentions and show trials to make political points, as it did with the unjust detention of Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari in 2007.
Al-Homayed writes: "...What was conspicuous in this matter was what Saberi’s lawyer Salah Nikbakht said after the Iranian appeals court ordered the journalist’s release. He said, “The verdict of the previous court has been quashed based on the argument that the United States cannot be considered a hostile state to Iran.
"If the United States is not a hostile state to Iran then what is the reason for all the slogans raised by the Iranian regime on all levels and in all gatherings? Why do Iran’s allies in our region boast that their alliance with Tehran is to stand against US ambitions?
"What a strange issue. After all these slogans that the Iranians and their allies in the region have drowned us in with regards to the American enemy and its ambitions, its alliance with Zionist schemes, and America’s transformation into a charge in itself to be used against the opposition, the Iranian court comes out to say that America is not a hostile state!"
He is, to put it nicely, selective with his argument. Al-Homayed criticizes the Iranian state and its supporters among the populace for their virulent anti-Americanism (in the sense of opposition to the U.S. government), while conveniently ignoring the fact that Saudi religious scholars ('ulama) and preachers, many of them employed or otherwise connected to the kingdom's official religious establishment, also harbor such sentiments and even harsher ones that are not confined to U.S. foreign policy. It is also eye-opening to know that, according al-Homayed, that the Saudi state is so supportive of U.S. policy in the region (perhaps more so now that the U.S. is backing Arab Sunni tribal militias in Iraq) and the Israeli state. They could have fooled us before...Perhaps al-Homayed could next spend some ink writing about how the kingdom has financed the spread of its own virulent form of Salafism across the Muslim world, polluting Muslim countries and spewing bigotry against other Muslims.
Al-Homayed also writes about "the suffering of this young journalist" at the hands of Iran, the Salafi kingdom's chief regional rival with which it is currently engaged in a regional proxy war for political and social influence in Lebanon and Iraq. It is true that Iran has an abysmal record on press (and blogger) freedom, and one which is deservedly condemned and criticized by Reporters Without Borders. However, al-Homayed is not really concerned about freedom of the press, as he throws stones while ignoring his own country's horrible record on press freedom.
Even Iran, which is dominated by an 'ulama oligarchy (and only by those 'ulama in lockstep with the Khumaynist regime), has (very flawed) elections. Saudi Arabia has none. The state creed is a virulent brand of Salafi Sunnism which espouses bigotry galore against other Sunnis and Shi'i Muslims of all branches, and particularly the Twelver Shi'is and Isma'ili Shi'is, of whom there are minority populations in the kingdom. But al-Homayed, in all his (faux) concern over "freedom" is silent on these issues. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is a hypocrite. He produces columns that tow the line of his boss, Prince Salman, and the Saudi monarchy (which is the regime). His May 13 column is just another in a long line of columns he has produced that are in line with the kingdom's anti-Iran and anti-Shi'i stance. The newspaper he "edits" is, of course, the same one that employs the discredited Iranian exile-turned-sensationalist/faux "journalist" Amir Taheri. So, perhaps we should not expect quality in the pages of al-Sharq al-Awsat, official mouthpiece of Prince Salman.