Saudi Arabia Takes Swipe at Norway's Human Rights Record

Saudi Arabia has slammed Norway for its human rights record and condemned the country for failing to protect its Muslim citizens.

Norway has been accused of not doing enough to tackle public criticism of the prophet Mohammed, which should be made illegal, according to the Gulf state.

Riyadh also voiced concern over the increasing number of cases of domestic abuses and rape, hate crimes against Muslims, and disparities between poor and rich.

Norway came under scrutiny as the UN reviewed the human rights records of 14 countries during the Universal Periodic Review, which occurs every four years.

Norwegian foreign minister Børge Brende told Norway's NTB newswire: "It is a paradox that countries which do not support fundamental human rights have influence on the council, but that is the United Nations."

Saudi Arabia has often sparked international outrage for its controversial repression of freedom and crackdown on political dissidents and human rights activists.

Many NGOs have urged the country to revise its laws and policies.

"Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of nine million Saudi women and girls and nine million foreign workers," noted a 2012 Human Rights watch report.

"As in past years, thousands of people have received unfair trials or been subject to arbitrary detention. The year has seen trials against half-a-dozen human rights defenders and several others for their peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms," it said.

In the Saudi Kingdom, women are not allowed to drive and leave their house unless accompanied by a male guardian. They are still denied to practise sports in many schools and cannot be named with foreign names such as Alice and Sandy, considered inappropriate.

The country recently made headlines worldwide after it ruled that atheism is now considered as terrorism in the country.