Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights

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saudi dissident group established in 1993.

Founded in Riyadh by six Saudi scholars, the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR) had an agenda of political protest that was couched in a Sunni Islamic idiom that used the Qurʾan and hadith (sayings of the prophet Muhammad) to buttress its claims. The group's founding letter called for an end to injustice and the establishment of individual rights based on the precepts of shariʿa, or Islamic jurisprudence. The Saudi government banned the organization, forcing its members to go underground or leave the country. In 1994 the CDLR established its headquarters in London under the leadership of Muhammad al-Mas'ari, a former physics professor who had been imprisoned briefly in Saudi Arabia for his role in the committee. From London the group established a web site and used other forms of modern technology to promote a more strident program of opposition to the Saudi regime. Al-Mas'ari criticized the profligacy and absolutism of the Al Saʿud ruling family and called for a government that was more open and a more equitable distribution of the country's vast wealth. He criticized religious authorities (ulama) who provided Islamic justifications for the Al Saʿud's policies, and he supported those who called for reform of the system.

see also saudi arabia.


Fandy, Mamoun. Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Al-Rasheed, Madawi. A History of Saudi Arabia. New York; Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Anthony B. Toth

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Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights

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Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights