Religious rhetoric from the center to the periphery of public discourse in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain since 2011

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2020-05-05

Authors

Alrafaei, Dabya N.

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Abstract

Because religious rhetoric is so central to social and political commentary in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, no one expected to witness Ayedh al-Qarni, a central figure in the Saudi religious establishment, renounce and apologize for the Sahwa movement, which shaped the lived experience of Saudi and Bahraini society for decades. His apology in 2019 may have embodied the mainstream Saudi religious elites’ choice to accept co-optation and complacency in Mohammed bin Salman’s kingdom, but it also sprang from a broader shift in religion’s place within public discourse that began in the 2010s. This thesis traces and analyzes recent transformations in the religio-social sphere by mapping the shifting position of religious rhetoric from the center to the periphery of Saudi and Bahraini public discourse, and by situating this shift within the broader political and social transformations of the 2010s.

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