On May 7 Saudi liberal activists gathered online to celebrate Saudi Liberalism Day, an initiative to acquire recognition and acceptance for liberal ideas. The gathering had to be online because it is forbidden to organize public meetings in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi liberals have been stigmatized for a long time for their progressive views and calls for human rights and democracy in a society that defines itself by its conservatism. They have been heavily attacked by the religiously-dominated ruling class. The group Saudi Liberalism aims in the long term to develop into a political organization.
Leading Saudi liberal activist, Souad Al Shammary, who is secretary-general of the group Saudi Liberalism, wrote:
Secular university student Mohammad tweeted:
Prominent liberal activist Wael Alqasm tweeted:
Other people, however, criticized Saudi Liberalism Day as well as the idea of liberalism itself. Law graduate Jawahir Al Subaie commented:
@TheJawahir: I don't understand the purpose of Liberalism Day in #Saudi #7مايو
Badr Al Rashed criticized Saudi liberals saying:
Abdullah Mohemed Al Dawood quoted [ar] Al Jazeera talk show host Faisal Al Qassem who apparently said: “I laugh very much when I see a secular man, who hasn't even convinced his family about his ideas, attacking the Islamists who control the streets everywhere.”
Abullrahman Al Kanhal criticized liberals in a blog post:
الليبرالية الحقة لا تتجزأ ولا تتلون مثل حرباء الليبرالية السعودية ، فهم فجأة ضد ثورات الشعوب ، و ضد مطالب الإصلاح. […] لم يكن لهم حديث عن الفقر ولا الفساد إلا عندما منحهم الملك عبدالله الضوء الأخضر
True liberalism is indivisible and not colored like the chameleon of Saudi liberalism, as they are suddenly against the peoples’ revolutions and the demands for reforms. […] They didn't talk about either poverty or corruption, only when King Abdullah gave them the green light.