(MENAFN - Arab News) It seems that there is a new spirit taking over Saudi society. The deeply rooted conservative aspect of the community is giving room to a new and rare side that has never been seen before in public.
Last week a group of young Saudi girls and boys showed an exceptional and unprecedented display of contempt. They held a peaceful protest on the grounds of King Khalid University (KKU) in the southern city of Abha. They were demanding a cleaner environment on campus. But when they were denied that simple request, they raised their demand to a full inquiry into allegations of corruption to the president of the university.
Strong public displays such as this have always been disapproved by society and government. But while government security forces dealt with the protest in its usual firm way, the governor of Asir, Prince Faisal bin Khalid, asked for a meeting with a delegation of the students to hear their demands.
Although Prince Faisal stressed the importance of keeping peace and security throughout the country, he presented a fair argument that gave legitimacy to the demands of the young protesters, and promised to convey them to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
To understand these unusual events more deeply, we need to take a few steps back in time. We need to look at the last decade and how it was loaded with overwhelming terminology such as "change," "reform," and "fight against corruption." The dominant discourse that was reoccurring in the local media had a compelling message to mobilize society to fight corruption.
Though those expressions didn't progress much to actual application, they certainly left a deep impression on the minds of the people. It finally found its manifestation in the aspirations of the new young generation that represents around 70 percent of the total population of the country as latest studies reveal.
The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) early last year was a clear message that the new path of government was heading to closing grounds on mismanagement in both private and public sectors. But it was clear also that the commission cannot solely implement the king's desire to reduce the extent of corruption without the assistance of the community at large.
The sense of social responsibility spread rapidly through the eager Saudi society that was waiting patiently for someone to take their complaints seriously. Public participation in the "fight against corruption" was welcomed and encouraged by the commission and its open hot lines. But where was the commission on the KKU corruption allegations?
Corruption accusations against KKU officials were roaming around for years. Just last year a foreign academic submitted her resignation and presented a report of many violations occurring on campus grounds. The report with many other similar academic complaints never found their way to ACC.
If we take a speedy look at the vast lands that the country spreads on, we would imagine the work load the commission is confronted with. It simply cannot cover its authority in the short period it was established in. This opens a wider role of community participation, but with limited preparation and understanding of required actions.
Unfortunately, sometimes society's activities and responses can be unpredictable or drastic. The youth may resort to radical statements such as the 3 people who committed suicide over unemployment issues, or starting a hunger strike to bring attention to political detainees as in the case of Mohammed Albjady.
The remarkable thing about the KKU students' protest is that the students themselves showed a lot of social awareness in handling the situation. They paid extra attention to the political sensitivity surrounding the matter and represented their demands to the media while expressing loyalty to the king and the country.
It is clear that the government and community have declared an intolerance state to corruption and mismanagement by officials. There will be many new and different practices to achieve success over the deeply rooted corruption practices. The Saudi youth need to show creative and resourceful methods to make the balance to their favor.
I read a tweet two days ago regarding a suspected mismanagement case of another university president. The tweet seemed cheerful and was wondering if that official was ready to be challenged by people on Twitter. I'm looking forward to see the answer.