As Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair (understatedly) notes: "There is no tolerance for views or beliefs outside the official line [in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]."
Ali Ahmad Asseri, the diplomat, happens also to be openly gay and has (reportedly) "befriended a Jewish woman."
Mr. Asseri, on his part, claims that the Saudi government terminated him from his job as first secretary at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles; refusing also to renew his diplomatic passport, because "he openly criticized the Saudi religious establishment on the Internet."
Whatever the facts, according to the U.S. Department of State, homosexuality is indeed punishable by "flogging or death" (and/or at least much abuse in prison) in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this year, USCIRF confirmed that textbooks posted on the Saudi Ministry of Education’s website "continue to teach hatred toward faiths and beliefs other than the Saudi government-backed version of Islam, and, in some cases, actually promote violence."
As Slate in an article from last September (cited by the most recent USCIRF report on Saudi Arabia) notes:
"In the 1960s and '70s, Wahhabism was fused with radical Egyptian salafism—a return to the way Islam was practiced in the first three centuries of its existence—when Saudi Arabia granted sanctuary to Egyptian firebrands escaping the wave of secular Arab nationalism in their home country.So what's really going on here?
Now, Wahhabi-salafis exert near-total control over the Saudi ministries of education and justice—and the religious police. Millions of teachers, judges, and sheiks constantly remind the public that the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia is the only true Islam, and anyone who deviates from the faith is an unbeliever. In some cases, the thinking has gone, those unbelievers deserve to be punished."
According to a report in Foreign Policy:
"Washington [therefore] faces an extremely serious dilemma. If it sends Asseri home, and he is killed, there will be outrage, not only in the United States but especially in Western Europe. On the other hand, if it grants him asylum, it will be opening the door for diplomats representing the majority of the world's states who may declare themselves gay and then seek asylum in America. That may not be a precedent that the United States wishes to set for itself, especially in light of the strong feelings over an issue that continues to divide the American electorate."
If religion were indeed the main concern here, 6 billion plus voices should be raised.
This is just slightly more complicated.
Seems that the USCIRF might just be grandstanding a bit with this one (September-November blues?), but surely, if any country deserves it . . .