The Religious Policeman on Saudi Arabia:
... up until now, we've been one of the most rabidly racist countries in the world, and totally unconcerned about it. Walk down any Saudi street and ask anybody who looks as though they come from points East, how do the Saudis regard and treat you? Ask the Pakistani taxi driver. Ask the Bangladeshi street-cleaner, in his orange jump-suit, sweeping up the tissues and fast-food boxes that we thoughtfully throw out of our car window as we pass. Best of all, if you get the chance, ask our Indonesian housemaids.
I certainly saw that the "All Muslims are Equal" rhetoric is completely hollow in Saudi Arabia. Non-Saudis in the country don't have the right to own property. They must rent their living space and so did my family. We had to move around a lot because our compassionate Muslim brothers -- the Saudi owners -- would jack up the rent when the first year of lease was over.
Non-Saudis were employed to maintain the apartment buildings where we lived. They would keep watch over the entrance, wash a car for 10 riyals (US$2.66) in the suffocating heat, bring drinking water to many apartments, and clean the floors. I don't think they spent less than 12 hours a day on hard labor. I saw them eat only one food: rice. These guys were from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines. They sent a large chunk of their meagre income back home to their parents, wives, and kids. Most hadn't been to their native land in years. They simply couldn't afford to. They would chat a bit and offer the saddest smile whenever they saw us [we're Pakistanis]. Not an ounce of fat was present on their bodies. The oppressive sun had added a few coats of black to their skin color. Still, they worked hard and diligently without complaint.
Yet, the Saudis treated them with contempt. The Saudis would rather bark at them than speak to them like civilized men. The squalid workers would never utter a word in protest because they knew that in Saudi Arabia it doesn't take much to deport a foreign worker.
My dad worked in Saudi Arabia with many Arab colleagues. He often worked on the weekend to show his dedication (read: pick up the slack for incompetent Saudis). Yet, he got paid around half of what the company gave the Saudis. You see, at the very heart of Islam, some Muslims are more equal than others.
I once watched a documentary which presented the Haj in detail. The documentary showed a black man who was moved when he watched the rich and the poor, the men and the women, the white and the non-white, all praying to one God. Reality, however, reared its ugly head when he went outside the Mosque in Makkah to pray and sleep in a tent. The occupants of that tent wouldn't allow him to stay and pointed him to a different shelter. He soon realized why. That tent was for Arabs who wouldn't associate with anyone who is black. So, this black Muslim went to a different tent with folks from Africa who allowed him to stay. Inside the Mosque, all brothers are equal. Outside the Mosque, the unspoken racial apartheid is well and present.
Finally, an incident I'll never forget. A few years ago, while I was in Saudi Arabia, my mom told me to bring home my youngest brother from the bus stop. I was slightly confused. You see, the school bus dropped him off only a block away. I did walk him home after my mom clued me in.
"The Arab kids throw stones at him if he's alone."