Saudi Religious Voice During Arab Spring: The Similarities and Differences

Hashem Alrefai, Minnesota State University, Mankato


This paper examines the perspectives of the three types of Saudi Islamic movements during the Arab Spring in 2010. The Arab Spring provided the political opportunity structure for the Saudi Islamic movements which invested in that historical event from different aspects. Data was collected from the personal websites and personal twitter accounts of 9 significant names leaders of three the Saudi Islamic movements from December 2010 until December 2017. The content analysis revealed that despite the differences among the social movements, religious actors adopted an ad-hoc and inconsistent approach toward the revolutions, with the notable exception of the small group of “Enlightened Islamic.” The “develop as it goes” framing shows that Islamic, contrary to what is generally assumed, did not have a fixed political ideology. In this context, the mainstream Islamism in Saudi Arabia has never developed an ideological commitment to democratic or revolutionary political thoughts, but the Arab Spring events pushed them to formulate such a thought. The study uses the political process theory to explain how the Saudi Islamic movements look to the Arab Spring as a political opportunity to increase their demands. Also, the political opportunity structure explains how the Saudi regime interacted with the action of Saudi Islamic movements during the Arab Spring period 2011-2017. The paper presents how the state of political openness or closeness affects the activity of social movements in repressive countries.


Rights Statement

In Copyright