In the Western imagination, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is abhorrent—a medieval relic synonymous with brutal beheadings; a blatant disregard for due process and the rule of law; circumscribed rights for women, minorities, and guest workers; and zero tolerance for the freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. This reputation is not entirely unjustified. Capital punishment, arbitrary detentions, an opaque judiciary, and limited tolerance for dissent are all realities the Kingdom grapples with. However, this does not mean the country’s human rights record can or should be dismissed as an abject failure. Using the First Amendment of the US Constitution as a framing mechanism, this report measures Saudi Arabia’s progress in advancing individual rights while simultaneously contextualizing shortcomings within the Kingdom’s unique, non-Western sociocultural and religious history.

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