CDHR – for human rights and press freedom in Saudi Arabia

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following my interview with Dr. Ali H. Alyami of the Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR), in Washington. Dr Alyami is a native of Saudi Arabia, and has lived and studied in the USA. His PhD theses was about the Impact of Modernization on the Stability of the Saudi Monarchy.
Dr. Ali H. Alyami
As it says on the website of the Center: „Due to its centrality to Islam and as a major exporter of petroleum, as well as the state’s austere religious doctrine, Saudi Arabia plays major roles in Muslims’ and non-Muslims’ lives worldwide; consequently, its policies and practices are of major concern to its people and to the international community.” 
For ProMosaik the debate about Saudi Arabia is also essential to show the difference between Wahabi interpretation of Islam, and other interpretations of Islam by other Muslim communities and law schools. For me personally, this applies in particular if we talk about women rights.
How was the CDHR founded?
CDHR is a Washington-based tax exempt educational organization founded in 2003 to promote political reforms and social justice in Saudi Arabia where I was born and grew up. For me political reforms in Saudi Arabia mean the transformation of Saudi political structure from its current autocratic one-family-rule to a participatory political structure where all citizens’ and expatriates’ civil liberties and full rights are protected under the rule of codified non-sectarian laws, and where citizens have the right to participate in their government and society. This political reform would also guarantee social justice in the country, the respect of minorities, and the promotion of women rights.
What are the main activities of your organization?
Our main activities concern education in the form of research, interpretation, analysis and public discussions (conferences) of what happens in and to Saudi society. It is important to know from a direct source what really happens there to get a real picture which is not based on prejudices of all kind.
What is the current situation related to censorship in Saudi Arabia?
Harsh. Saudi Arabia is ruled by an absolute monarchy which considers all forms of free expressions as un-Islamic, therefore forbidden. Our center struggles for the elimiation of all forms of censorship in Saudi Arabia and about Saudi Arabia. Free expression is an essential aspect of a democratic civil society. So we need to call for an uncensored flow of information into and out of Saudi Arabia. .
One of your activities includes networks with other groups. Why do you think it is important to create transnational partnerships?
It is essential to cooperate with our groups to promote democracy and social justice in Saudi Arabia. Cooperations also help us to have more appeal, respect, credibility and support locally, regionally and globally. 
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
We do this in the US and in countries where civil society and freedom of expression are allowed and practiced. Saudi Arabia is not one of them. Our work is considered un-Islamic and threat to Saudi reputation and domestic practices. So we network with pro-democracy and human rights groups in the US, Europe, and also with individuales in Arab and Muslim communities.