English version of piece published in Stern

This is the English original version I wrote and was translated to German and published in the new print edition of Stern magazine no41/2011, out today, Thursday, 6th of October, pages 54-57.

In Saudi Arabia my gender decides whether or not I can enter certain ministries, what I can major in college and if I can name my own child.
My gender mandates that I cannot drive my own car. No matter what age I am or how well I drive, I have to find a male to drive my car.
If I were divorced, a widow or simply had a husband that was out of the country at the time, my gender dictates that I have to find a male relative to obtain a birth certificate and document my child’s name at government circles.
My gender also mandates whether I can freely leave the country or not. As a woman, if I need to travel, I am at the mercy of my father and husband. At the airport I am stopped and required to show an official yellow card from the Saudi Interior Ministry that states that my husband has granted me permission to travel. If I fail to provide it, then I’m escorted out of the airport and told to go home and convince my husband.
My husband can legally divorce me without reason, without my presence and without my knowledge.
In public schools, from the age of twelve, girls are forced to cover their faces completely with not even a slit for their eyes as they enter and leave the strictly girls only schools.
All restaurants cannot allow women in unless they have a separate entrance and area for them to sit in.

All of these rules are not only socially or culturally enforced but legally as well. So that no matter how much our society may move forward and general awareness is raised, the laws pull us back. This legal and governmental factor makes it extremely difficult for forward thinking women to demand change. If I drive my car as a woman, I am not only breaking a social taboo but also entering into a discussion of whether or not I’m breaking the law and challenging the government. This is what has led to the nine-day imprisonment of Manal Al Sharif. One of the accusations presented against her by government officials is driving a car while female within a city and inciting other women to do the same. Just last week another Saudi woman was sentenced to ten lashes for driving a car in a city. The king soon pardoned her, but it remains a fact that a judge can do that.
A member of the highest Islamic council, Sheikh Al Manea, reasons that it is justified to sentence a woman to physical punishment or imprisonment for driving a car, not because she drove the car per se but because she broke the law. These types of arguments are what makes it particularly difficult for the women rights movement in Saudi Arabia. The argument that you are not only breaking a social, cultural or even religious taboo but also going against the government and legal system can be a powerful deterrent to Saudi women who need to speak up for their rights.
A few months ago, the aforementioned Manal Al Sharif, spearheaded a movement to get Saudis used to the idea of a woman behind the steering wheel. July 17th was set as the day when Saudi women would start to drive themselves to work or school rather than rely on a male driver. The purpose was that from that day and onwards more and more women would slowly gain the courage to drive. At the same time Saudi society in general would gradually get used to the sight of women driving. Unfortunately that was not how it worked out. A couple of weeks before July 17th, Manal Al Sharif was arrested.
On the day itself there was a heavy police presence on all the main streets. Despite these obstacles, a few brave women drove their cars. I was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of it, even though Ive never learned to drive. I got into the car with another Saudi woman, Azza Al Shmasi. As I videotaped, she drove for 15 minutes close to a main street in Riyadh. When I got home I excitedly shared the video with my followers on Twitter, as did all the women who drove that day. Then for the next few weeks, more and more women drove and uploaded videos. It seemed as though we were making progress.
Unfortunately our progress was severely halted when several of the women who took part started receiving phone calls from the interior ministry and getting trial dates. I started receiving calls from the investigation unit at the Interior Ministry about a month after the last time I got into the car with Azza. In the beginning it seems as if they had made the assumption that my husband does not support me in my fight for women rights. They asked to speak to him, as though they did not have his full details right there in my file. This tactic of threatening women with informing their male guardians might have worked decades ago but Saudi society has evolved past that. The overwhelming majority of women who went out to drive have the full support of their immediate families. After two weeks of these harassing phone calls, my husband was called to the ministry. He refused to sign the pledge that he would make sure that I would not drive or upload videos of driving. The phone calls stopped. However, another Saudi woman, Najla Hariri has not been as fortunate. After her phone calls and visit to the interior ministry, she is currently awaiting a trial.
Here we were, fighting for the simple and basic right to drive our own cars. So we were surprised when King Abdullah surpassed all these rights that we had been fighting for and granted women not only the vote but also the right to be nominated as candidates in the 2015 municipal elections. The king also announced that women would be included in his appointed parliament. These changes are huge breakthroughs in the fight for womens rights, however they remain far in the future and have no effect on the day to day life of Saudi women today. They have however enraged many of our sheikhs. One such sheikh is Shiekh Allehiedan, another member of the Saudi highest Islamic council. He came out on TV to state that the king had not consulted with him before these announcements and that he is more protective of the country and its Sharia constitution than the king himself. Other extreme conservatives have also made a point of stating their unhappiness with these announcements. A worrying but unsurprising development; the extreme conservative have had a hold on the country from its very beginning. A partnership between the government and the mosque that is gradually growing sour because of the failure of both in reining in the peoples demands for their freedom and rights.

Many people fail to realize how relatively new Saudi Arabia is. It was not declared a country until 1932, so it is only about 80 years old. It is about 5 times the size of Germany. Our first king, King Abdulaziz, managed to unify this vast desert land despite the different cultures and even religious Islamic sects of its people. Then with the discovery of oil, led our dispersed people into building one of the more prosperous countries of the world.
Unlike the majority of our neighbors we were not colonized so we did not have a western law system imposed upon us. We had to start with the tools we had at the time; Arab tribal law and religion. Starting as we did from square one in the modern world makes for some interesting challenges. Condensing hundreds of years of evolvement of national law, civilian rights and freedom in a few decades. From that perspective, it is not hard to understand how we have come to have all these modern amenities and yet live a lifestyle that is reminiscent of medieval times.
As a Saudi woman, I understand all this. I also understand how exotic Saudi women are to the rest of the world. Our abayas and culture are a more subtle form of the same exoticism of the Padaung tribe where women wore neck bracelets that made them look giraffe necked. Despite how uncomfortable it looked and how much it affected their lives, it seemed to outsiders as though they were proud of their heritage and wanted to maintain it by passing it on to future generations. However when human rights organizations dug beneath the surface they found that it was face, politics and economics that were forcing this tradition on women who wanted better for themselves and their daughters.
Although we don’t wear our niqabs because we need to draw tourists, we still have in common with these Burmese women that a combination of face, politics and economics have constricted our freedom and put many unnecessary obstacles in the path of our happiness. Arab traditions and culture have dictated the most extreme governmentally enforced environment of gender discrimination. So much so that these factors have resulted in the creation of the only gender apartheid in todays world.
As a Saudi woman, I understand all this, yet; somehow it does not alleviate my frustration at how my country’s history has such an impact on my day-to-day life.

49 Comments

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49 responses to “English version of piece published in Stern

  1. HAIFAA ALMOAMMAR

    Doesn’t the yellow card remind us all of the yellow star the Nazi’s had the Jews wear? The irony must have escaped those neanderthal.

  2. How do you feel about muslim women fighting for the right to wear burka in Western countries? Is this a threat to the women themselves, to the countries they are living in and to the women fighting for basic right in the arabic world? Do you think that arab/muslim women living in European countries/US should do more to advance the case of muslim women in Saudi Arabia?
    Love reading your blog :)

    • Cat

      Burka = Mushroom

      Fed Sh@t and kept in the dark.

      • ? Actually these woman are quite articulate.
        Most have university degree
        On one hand you have Wajeha al-Huwaider and on the other hand you have

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rikn4E5HcsU&feature=related

      • Cat

        That is not a Burka and even some intelligent people like being in the dark and fed sh@t. Here is some wonderful stuff they tell women as to why they need to cover themselves. A women is like a flower her beauty should only be admired by her husband. Note: Flowers grow in the sun for all to see. A women is like a diamond, it should be protected and admired by few. First a diamond is one of the hardest substance on earth and needs no protection, except if it is taken from its owner.

        The Burka to me means oppression. The Burka represents the ideology of the Taliban. Here is an analogy of what it means to me and other women.

        The Burka to many women means the same as a hangmans noose to a person of color and a nazi swatistica to jews. The Burka represents the vile ideology of the Taliban to all women. Those who WILLING wear it represent that ideology to many and all that goes with it. It is a uniform of opression. They are of the same substance as the members of the KKK. It is a statement that the women are nothing more than a sex organ that needs to be covered, that she is vile and not even worthy to be seen. It is the ultimate insult all under the guise of modesty. Modesty of course is another means by which many religions and cultures terrorize and belittle women as well.

      • Anonymous

        Cat the difference between a burka and a niqab is as relevant for a non-muslim than the difference between a bikini and a tankini for a saudi policeman… That was not my point…

        This was a thought provoking article, amazingly well written. It is just difficult to understand from a westerner point of view why so many women in occidental countries fight for such right as wearing the burka or preventing their girls to participate in gym classes etc… etc…

      • Cat

        Because many of them are fundalmentalist and believe in the worst tenets of what they have learned by the salafi sect or as us westerns lump the different sects into that are considered intolerent – wahabbi. Your right most westerns don’t know the difference from a burka or a niqab and this article is well written. Saudi woman provides a different view by writing from her perspective and I appreciate and respect that. I wish all Saudia Arabian women well in the rightful fight for equality.

        Women need to be very concerned over immigration and cultures entering into the west because most cultures don’t recognize women as equal and some not even human. Multiculturism may be a great buzz word for some politicians but it may become more of an enemy to women and their equality. Time and time again women are told to respect someones culture even if that culture has no respect for them. I myself have been placed into this situation in my own country. There are times when certain aspects of cultural norms should just fade away because it is offensive, backwards, damaging and oppressive. It should not be revered, accepted or respected. I find it interesting that women are so easily discarded in equality and standing even in free or secular countries when dealing with people who live in the west from other cultures. Women need to say, NO I will not respect a culture that does not respect me within my own country. In fact, I respect no country that does not respect half of it’s citizens. I revel in the fact that women across the world are standing up fighting for their rights and demanding more. They deserve more, they deserve better, they are worth it and they have waited long enough.

        Many countries in the west just allowed voting for women with the last 100 years or so and still today women are still struggling with double standards and lower pay. It has taken years of fighting to obtain what we have today and it can be taken away in just one generation if not guarded.

        All religions need to be watched for fundalmentalism as far as I am concerned. Religions all have tendency to belittle people by gender, orientation, association and some times by race. They all have the ability to become oppressive.

        Yes, I find the Burka to be offensive. I also find it to be a slap in the face to every woman trying to free herself from that oppression. I have no respect for a woman who wears one in the west. As it symbolizes to me that they adhere to the tenets of oppression and agree with the treatment of women like Saudia Arabia, Afganistan, and now insert any other oppressive country. To me they are no less than the symbolism of the Taliban proudly waving their allegience. So I hope this answers some of your questions.

  3. Nadia AL Arifi

    The only right that women receive is in saudization at employment. One Saudi woman counts for two Saudi men employed. Would you call this discrimination for or against women. I wonder!

    • @ Nadia AL Arifi

      There are an estimated 10 million expatriate workers–of all categories and stripes–in Saudi Arabia.

      The Saudi population is between 12 to 18 million (no scientific surveys allowed in the land of Allah) and it’s safe to assume that 6 million of them {women and men} can work.

      How many of the 6 million are working and how many of them are women?

  4. Cat

    All religions or customs that belittle, degrade, dehumanize, subhumanize or animalize another person or themselves should be abandon.

    Remember the following:
    Separate does not mean equal or honored.
    Multicultural political correctness while upholding of subjugation of persons based on gender or orientation is evil and wrong.

    Here is another wonderful analysis on what Islam offers women:
    http://www.light-of-life.com/eng/reveal/

  5. les king

    just read the enlish translation of the piece you did for the German magazine Stern, as usual, you writing is succinct and thought provoking. It is easy for me to offer you advice but very difficult not to have that advice sound sound patronising and westernised cant. The availability and acessibility of education to certain classes of Saudi women has proved to be a double edged sword for the country’s rulers. On one hand it is a laudable achievement that women ( though, not all) have had the access to further education, on the other hand, for the Saudi rulers, and moreso its religous heirarchy, the result of women aqquiring such education is the realization for these educated women is that they have so much more to offer Saudi society as a whole, but to do so, the restrictions such as the one on female drivers, would have to be swept away and consigned to the past. Just what is the point of educating women if the end result is not going to allowed to serve the society that provided it ? Your own blog is a very important tool in scaling these barriers and long may you carry on with what is an education to us here in the west. If there is any way we can help then let us know, persevere Saudiwoman, its too important, not just to Saudi women, but to the country and society as a whole, that your voice is heard, believe me its getting louder and heard in even the distant corners of this ever shrinking world. Even the smallest light illuminates in the darkest places. Carry on and know you do not travel alone, its the right direction and even if you cant see all of us who travel that road, we can hear your footsteps.

  6. “Arab traditions and culture have dictated the most extreme governmentally enforced environment of gender discrimination. So much so that these factors have resulted in the creation of the only gender apartheid in todays world.”–INCORRECT.
    THE SAUDI-WAHHABI DIVIDE AND CONQUER POLICY DID. PRINCE NAIF SAID THAT ANY MAN WHO LETS HIS WIFE OR DAUGHTER WORK FOR ANOTHER MAN IS NOT A MAN.

    THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT IS ONLY A TOOL FOR THE MEN WHO RULE. WHY ARE THEY ON THE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL IF THEY WERE NOT HIRED TO DO ITS DIRTY WORK?

    UNDERPINNINGS OF THE SAUDI-WAHHABI ARRANGEMENT IS NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR US TO GET INTO THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE DEADLY DISEASE: SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC GAINS BY RULING MEN.

  7. These rights have been hinted over and over for the last decades, however, I am quite optimistic after allowing Saudi women in Shura and local MCs.. having gained that major right, makes it easier for the inferior ones, though we need to keep on demanding all rights.. thanks to Eman nd other Saudi HRs activists for the effort.. I would wish I nominate one for Nobel’s, but I am afraid she won’t be allowed to attend the ceremony..

  8. @ Ahmed Fouad

    I too solute the courageous Saudi women, like Eman, Wajeha Al-Hwaider and many others for their tireless struggle to remove the cancerous cells of oppression, discrimination and marginalization imposed on them by a system that invoke god and religion to justify its atrocious policies against women, religious minorities, non-Muslims and Muslims who do not adhere to their cruel interpretation of religion, culture and gender worthiness.

    Saudi women (and men) have been lied to before. After 2005 cosmetic municipal elections, women were told that they would be allowed to take part in elections that only prove what they were designed to do: mislead the population and the international community into believing that a new dawn was about to to replace the darkness of crippling tyranny.

    What will happen if King Abdullah is replaced by one of his well known anti reform and pro religious extremist brothers by 2015?

    Women’s rights can only be attained and protected under a set of codified laws applicable to all, including the theocratic and autocratic men and women who gave themselves the authority to determine even the most minute aspect of people’s lives.

  9. Cat

    Saudi woman love your blogs. Here is an interesting article on how oil influences society more for men than women.

    http://politics.salon.com/2008/08/26/oil_islam_and_women/

  10. “Oil production affects gender relations by reducing the presence of women in the labor force. The failure of women to join the nonagricultural labor force has profound social consequences: it leads to higher fertility rates, less education for girls, and less female influence within the family.” RUBBISH

    • Cat

      Here somemore information on the matter:

      Ali:

      This article discusses gender, economic development and equilty. It also touches upon how political islam shapes inequity. Very interesting article as well.
      http://lilt.ilstu.edu/critique/Spring%202011%20docs/Johnson%20Critique%20final.pdf

      Here are two other articles that are most interesting as well on male dominance in the oil sector.

      This is an great article on the topic of gender inequality in another region. http://louisbrownogbeifun.com/?p=43

      http://esciencenews.com/articles/2010/02/05/renewable.oil.companies
      This article also makes a very telling statement about oil production societies which states: “Ideally, green economics will see a switch from an energy intensive and consumption-focused society economy that perpetuates poverty, gender inequalities and environmental degeneration to one of sustainability that circumvents the carbon-based energy regime.”

      Now couple all of this with your statment:

      “INCORRECT.
      THE SAUDI-WAHHABI DIVIDE AND CONQUER POLICY DID. PRINCE NAIF SAID THAT ANY MAN WHO LETS HIS WIFE OR DAUGHTER WORK FOR ANOTHER MAN IS NOT A MAN.

      THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT IS ONLY A TOOL FOR THE MEN WHO RULE. WHY ARE THEY ON THE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL IF THEY WERE NOT HIRED TO DO ITS DIRTY WORK?

      UNDERPINNINGS OF THE SAUDI-WAHHABI ARRANGEMENT IS NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR US TO GET INTO THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE DEADLY DISEASE: SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC GAINS BY RULING MEN.”

      Now one could say you have a perfect storm for gender inequality in the extremes with oil (economics), culture, politcal ideology, and the House of Saud’s I have the power I can control and suppress you attitude.

  11. Lea

    eman jaan, so wonderful to have you back. i was afraid that you ran into too many difficulties with your minders,

    In the comments above, we are talking AGAIN too much about female clothing. Let<s talk about how much it takes in any country for a woman to do what SHE wants to – open a business, get a Phd., be a housewife, walk around at night, play judo, be a defence minister, do abstract painting, be monogamous, drive a truck, travel by herself, rent a flat, flirt with guys etc. etc. and then, as just one of minor issues whether she can wear a miniskirt, old jeans, a business suit or abaya equally indiscriminatory.

    Thanks again. L.

  12. That Fabled Land of Kastles and Knights, Has Become a Virtual Marketplatz for Progressive Ideals. Like the Renaissance Low Countries; The West is Up to Its Neck in Coffee, Tea, Philanthropic Ideals. But It Is All Superficial. In a Moment of Panic the West will Fall like Rome; Europe shall be cast in another Dark Age of Little Ice Age`s and Biblical Catastrophes. Like a Page from the Koran Itself. Any Faith placed in the Institutions of that Ill Fated Civilization Shall prove False. If there is to be any redeeming Hope for the West. It will come Indeed, from Its Noblest and most sincere Intentions… Alois Saint-Martin.
    abrighterhellas.blogspot.com

  13. Zainab

    Dear Eman Fahad Al Nafjhan,
    Saudiwomanblog@gmail.com
    I would first like to congratulate you for atleast waking up to write and bring awareness to fellow women living in dispair and deprived life of prisoners in Saudi Arabia. It is interesting to learn that a “Wahabi” women has thought of bringing awareness.

    Before we go further in discussion, I would like to bring to you kind attention that “ ISLAM was never a religion of suppression or oppression”. The Prophet (PBUH) has ensured that women have equal rights and it is required to seek permission of the women to get married. I shall give you simple examples of how learned scholars the Prophet’s (PBUH) daughters were. Which no body can deny.

    Wahabism has brought disgrace to islam. The SAHABAS and “SYED’S” were the one’s who preached ISLAM and spread ISLAM around the globe. NOT these self proclaimed WAHABIS as caretakers of ISLAM.

    If you digg deep into the history, the children of ABU JAHL have created trouble during the times of his holiness Propher (PBUH) and they continue to disgrace ISLAM by their actions to this day. ALLAH has sent around 1,24000 prophets to this holy land, still you people live and behave the same way as you did during the old times, with no respect and compassion towards another muslim brother or sister. He either be it from the arab lands or from else where in the world.

    Your hipocracy has brought disgrace to all the muslims around the world and your double standards humiliate every muslim in the world.

    Had it not been the holy land of Mecca and Medina, No muslim in this world would have cared about you because of your behaviour, attitude and disrespect to fellow muslims around the world.

    Being “SYED’s” we strongly feel that our religion has been HIJACKED by WAHABIS, the children of ABU JAHL, with the main intention to disgrace ISLAM. They have been successful in doing so. But we shall not let this happen in our name.

    Please tell your wahabi brothers, if you think that you can preach this kind of islam, please leave the holy lands and go around the globe to preach this version of islam what you practice at your home, double standards hypocracy, oppression of women. No body would embrace ISLAM.

    Today the sufferings you arabs face despite being the holy lands, is because of your hypocracy. Even after reading QURAN, you promote suppression and oppression of fellow human being either be it male or female. The Prophet (PBUH) fought against oppressors and hypocracy during his times and to this day we see the children of ABU JAHL practice the same.

    They abduct and traffic young women denying them rights and force them to marry them.

    Today with deep regret i should say that “ ISLAM is ashamed of calling WAHABIS as real muslims”.

    From old days to this day you live like animals and you shall continue to live like that until you respect fellow human being and a fellow muslim brother or sister. You need to give them equal rights and voice to them.
    One of the main reasons for our bad image in the whole world is nothing but due to your behaviour, attitude and disrespectful nature towards fellow muslims and non-muslims. I bet today ISLAM if you go and be the preacher of ISLAM, no body would embrace ISLAM for you preach HYPOCRACY.

    I call upon all the SYED’s (SAYYED’s) and the LIFE line of the Prophet (PBUH) to come forward against HIJACK of ISLAM by WAHABIS and do not let the children of ABU JAHL disgrace our Prophets (PBUH) preaching or teachings.

    O SADAT’s please wake up before it is too late. Do not let our women and children suffer. The children of ABU JAHL and WAHABIS are bringing disgrace to our Prophet’s Teachings.

    Unfortunately, the saudi’s cannot think beyond two months of salary.

    Saudi Arabia was better off under Ottaman Empire.

    Remember a true muslim never hurts another muslim and he respects every human being irrespective of any religion. ISLAM does not preach hatred, oppression of any human being, It is against SLAVERY of any kind and form.

    WAHABISM is NOT ISLAM, WAHABISM preaches slavery, oppression of fellow muslims and human beings and even their women.

    May god protect all the muslims from this great conspiracy from hijacking and disgracing ISLAM by WAHABIS.

    ALLAHUAKBAR

  14. Glenn Jackson

    It is interesting. What truly is Islam? We read and hear about people being killed because they refuse to accept Islam. We read and hear about Christians being killed, hated or despised because they do not accept Islam. How then are we to prodeed toward a mutual solution that respects all people, regardless of religion, if a religion is based upon the idea that all people must be brought into it or die?

    Someone answer me this question and I will be thankful. Christians fear Islam. Muslims fear Christians. We are no further away from the crusades today in the reality of our emotions than we were in the middle ages. How are we ever going to break out of this cycle if we cannot learn to trust each other?

    All of us must, I believe, reach a point where our belief is subjugated to our love for other people, respect for their choices, and an earnest desire to live life in a way that demonstrates through our behaviors, that we are enlightened – being shown through the fruit of our life as honesty, compassion, love, truth, hope, and the other fruit of a value filled character lived life.

    No one of us can ever accept that our belief is wrong. But we can accept that others believe differently, and as long as they are not trying to force us to change, we should be able to get along. Why can’r we?

  15. Abbas

    I read your article when you were in germany.I know as a women u feel frustrated that ur denied many of ur rights which islam has given you.But your last few words were hateful and unacceptable, in which u compared nazi germany that was responisble for the death of tens and millions of people with saudi arabia.comparing saudi arabia with nazis is even more harsh and cruel than the nazis.specially considering that the west already spews lot of hate and disinformation against islam and in particuler saudi arabia the Land of Muhammed(peace be upon him).

    • Dave Lister

      What can’t be denied is that the life of a woman in Nazi Germany was freer than one in Saudi Arabia. Sad given the rest of the possible comparisons.

    • Atheist Sinner

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide

      1.5 Million Armenian people massacred by muslims

    • True Islam is not found in Yahudi Arabia

      No Abbas, Nazi Germany is equal to yahudi Arabia. In this wahhabi infested pit that has become an enemy of our holy prophet and his family, people are being persecuted for wanting their most basic rights. Islam has no room for absolute monarchies yet your clerics don’t seem to challenge it. They export terrorism and the funds for terrorism and have got into bed with Israel and the USA, have even allowed US christian armies on our holy soil/sand. What are the men in Yahudi Arabia afraid of if a woman wants to drive a car? Will insurance premiums be too expensive? The safety record of women is far better than that of male drivers. Women are not object to be kept locked at home because saudi men have insecurities and inadequacies. What other islamic country has these pathetic rules? Do you people not know that without women of the holy household Islam might not have survived the tyranny and murder of that Laanati Asshole Yazid son of the other asshole muawwia. Do you think if they were alaive today that they would put up with this nonsense that goes on in saudi? I think your puppet kings will end up on a youtube video soon alongside Gadaffi RIP

  16. brad c.

    Your world – like the rest of ours – was colonized. Your struggle is one of human rights. It is our struggle. You will not fail.

  17. Im not sure why people refuse to believe that there are MANY woman who view the burqa/niqab/hijab as something empowering. Either way, it is not your culture, not your religion and not your decision. It is something that these women must decide for themselves, so who are any of you to deem it as being oppressive? If forcing women to cover themselves is close-minded and oppressive, so is banning them from covering themselves.

    • Sandy

      I live in Saudi Arabia and we are forced to wear it. That is why it is not often viewed as empowering. I know Muslim families in the states that FORCE their daughters to wear it. They don’t think it is very empowering.

      Also, their are many MUSLIMS worldwide who believe that the modesty requirements have been interpreted within a cultural/tribal/patriarchal context and that most of what orthodox Islam “requires” is a bidah. So some would say women are oppressed due to manipulative education/indoctrination- again not very empowering.

      It IS my religion and it SHOULD be my decision. And I agree women should be allowed to cover if they want with the exception of Niqab. Society has the right that people don’t conceal their identities for the security of all.

    • anonymous

      Because it is unbelieveable….
      My sole source of understanding is comparing it to the slaves who fought next to their master against the yankee during the civil war. Made no sense whatsoever but they did it. Sometime people do unbelieveable things for no obvious reasons… I guest it is just what make us human.

  18. Cat

    Tolerance when applied to the intolerant is not only criminal but vile and evil.

    Here is an excellent article on this matter.

    http://mcbrolloks.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/the-islamic-inquisition-by-maryam-namazie/

  19. @ Cat

    No disagreement from here. Below is a piece that goes along with some of the points the gutsy writer mentioned in the article you posted. Ali
    ==================
    The Tehran Theocratic Mullahs’ Loathing for “The Great Satan” and Its Saudi “Puppets”

    By Ali Alyami

    There is nothing that the theocratic Mullahs in Tehran would rather do than tarnish the absolute Saudi monarchy’s image and render insignificant its leadership among Muslims and within the international community. It is a well-known fact that these last two tyrannical Muslim regimes are competing for Arab and Muslim leadership in the hope of securing global recognition and legitimacy for their draconian rule at home. In addition, the cruel Iranian regime will stop at nothing to drive a bigger wedge between the absolute Saudi monarchs and their most important protecting ally, the US. However, plotting to attack the Saudi embassy in Washington and kill its hundreds of personnel including King Abdullah’s yes-man ambassador will back fire in a way even the vicious Iranian regime is not suicidal enough to undertake.

    The similarities between the autocratic and theocratic regime in Tehran and their counterparts in Riyadh are well known. They are anti-democracy, anti-women, anti-non-Muslims, anti-human rights and share a common objective of ridding Arab and Muslim countries of Western influence so they can continue to oppress their people in the name of God and Shariah law. Both foster, export and finance extremist and terrorist groups in order to spread their influence and extract concessions from Western governments as the Saudis did with Britain regarding Arms Sales’ bribery in 2008. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/15/bae.armstrade).

    Knowing that Tehran’s despots and their counterparts in Riyadh are brimming with hate for the US and Israel as well as for each other, it should not be surprising, albeit unlikely in this case, that someone in Tehran would attempt to hire assassins to hit a small Saudi target, especially in the West. The theocrats in Tehran are vying for a leading role among Muslims; and bullying their Saudi competitors along with their US ally would enhance the image of the Iranian regime among many Muslims regardless of religious differences.

    Like the Saudi royals (recall King Abdullah’s urging President Obama to “cut the head of the snake”), the tyrannical regime in Tehran wants to drag the US and/or Israel into a prolonged war in an Arab or Muslim country so it can convince the rest of the mostly poverty stricken and marginalized Muslims of the “Crusaders’ war” against Islam and Muslims.

    Even harsh critics of Arab and Muslim ruling hooligans’ politics and practices would find the Justice Department’s alleged Iranian escapade to be unconvincing, especially at a time when the Iranian regime knows misbehaving could generate a crippling military response by a combination of regional and international coalitions. The Tehran theocrats are vicious, but not suicidal.

    • Cat

      Ali:

      Here is another insightful article on Islam and Women by

      Dr. Younus Shaikh

      Dr. Younus Shaikh, Pakistani Rationalist and founder President of the Rationalist organization of Pakistan, “The Enlightenment”, who was once sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, writes on Islam and Women.

      It also touches on the Saudi and Iranian government.

      http://www.rationalistinternational.net/article/20041120_en.html

    • True Islam is not found in Yahudi Arabia

      Brother Ali.
      How is Iran a tyrannical despotic or cruel regime? Your right on every count about Yahudi Arabia and its satanic monarchy, I agree with you on that. However, Iran has a democracy that is merely 3 decades old. The president is elected by the people in free elections as observed by ex president Jimmy Carter. He has no alliance with Iran. Iran is the only muslim state that actually speaks up for our Palestinian brothers who are massacred daily by Israel, a saudi ally. The people of palestine are mostly sunni brothers so you cant say they take sides. Which terror groups does Iran sponsor? Saudi sponsors Al Qaida, Taliban, PKK, Al shabab, PJAK, and many more I cant remember. 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were SAUDI. Where they aid workers who got lost in those planes?
      On the whole I do like your attempt at being balanced and suggesting the two opposing parties, saudi and iran are both sick. Iran, I guarantee you is very well, not perfect but a good example of how to stand up against Zionist Imperialism and USA aggression. Iran will never become another country’s bitch like the puppets in the rest of the PERSIAN gulf.

  20. Thanks alot for your great insights and wise writing! I follow your blog regularly and just wanted to say thanks for putting it out there! I’m originally from saudi arabia, too, and so all the issues you adress directly concern my family, too …

    anyway, thanks a bunch, and please keep up the great work!

  21. Western

    This is nothing but nonsense!
    Saudi women have a divine right to protect the image of islam which is a blessing to them and their country! These traditions are over 1400 years old, thats well before the time of Abdul-Aziz and they will remain for many years to come!

  22. The comment below was written for another forum, but it responds to some of the previous comments, especially to Pandora–October 13, 2011 at 7:33 am
    —————-
    Ali Alyami, on November 9, 2011 at 9:15 am said:

    How can a Saudi woman feel safe, enjoy marriage or home life as long as she knows her husband could easily and legally marry up to four wives while she has no say in the matter or legal recourse? She has to swallow the pain, humiliation and stay in the marriage because there is no other place for her to go other than returning to her family who may not except her, let alone welcome her back. She cannot find a job without male approval and forbidden from renting an apartment or buying a house on her own.

    Two legged creatures are no different than the four legged ones in their natural state. The y have to be tamed. and In this case, by creating social contracts (constitutions), codified rule of law, non-religious and independent judicial system where women can defend themselves, challenge their oppressors and abusers by themselves.

    Most Saudi men hardly spend anytime with their wives other than in bed when they have the sexual urge. Women can not say no to their husbands’ demands because they know, men could use that as an excuse to bring another woman home without any previous warning.

    Defending wrong doings does not make them right, cure the root causes of the problems or help those preyed on by a harsh system and multitude of social illnesses they did not create. Saudi women have and are still paying a very high price for crimes they did commit. They are being punished for existing.

    @Pandora
    October 13, 2011 at 7:33 am
    “Im not sure why people refuse to believe that there are MANY woman who view the burqa/niqab/hijab as something empowering.” EMPOWERING OR IDENTITY CONCEALING AND DISTORTION?

    “Either way, it is not your culture, not your religion and not your decision. It is something that these women must decide for themselves.” IS IT REALLY UP TO WOMEN TO DECIDE HOW TO DRESS IN SAUDI ARABIA? IT WOULD HELP IF DISCUSSANTS AT LEAST IDENTIFY THEIR GENDER.

  23. “What Do Saudi Women Want? “

    CDHR’s Comment: Saudi women want the most basic rights: Recognition as full human beings, full citizenship, financial independence and the right to move freely.

    With gargantuan respect and admiration for Ms. Eman Al Nafjan’s intelligence, courage and struggle, I beg to differ with some of her insinuations that the majority of Saudi women prefers to live under what amounts to a modern slavery system. While I agree with Ms. Al Nafjan that many women (and men) in the motherland remain nostalgic for their past and fearful of what’s denied to them, I disagree that the majority of the severely disenfranchised population, especially women, would not appreciate something better than living under institutionalized discriminatory and intimidating policies, harshly enforced by a system whose hegemonic survival depends on dividing, conquering and ensuring the population’s dependence on handouts and omnipresent fear of God, whipping sticks and the sword.

    Like any people, if Saudi women and men have free choices based on facts and knowledge of better alternatives, the overwhelming majority is more likely to denounce every aspect of their rasping culture, distorted religious teachings and suffocating social and political arrangements.
    The Saudi people can learn, think for themselves and distinguish between the good, the bad and everything in between. They can change and in due time embrace values that are the antithesis of what they have been programmed into believing are supreme to all other values, especially those of the “infidels,” which most educated Saudi men and women strive to attain. This is evidenced by traveling Saudis, most of whom cannot wait to board a plane and strip off their suffocating and unsightly attire and to slip into the outfits of the peoples they have been told are dirty, unethical sinners and hell-bound blasphemous unbelievers.

    I agree with Ms. Al Nafjan and millions of Saudis and other Muslims that religion has been used as a tool of oppression, discrimination, segregation and intolerance against those who think out of the box, non-Muslims and Muslim minorities. This is why many Muslims are not only questioning the authenticity of their faith, but severely criticizing it and many are leaving it altogether. The quandary is not that Saudi women and men cannot labor for, embrace and appreciate independence, self-reliance and liberation from the yoke of political, social, sexual and religious totalitarianism, it’s the system under which they are forced to live and coercively obey. All the people need is freedom of choices to venture into the unknown, explore their untapped potentials and put them in good use for themselves and for their influential country.

    What needs to be done to alter things for the better for the people of the motherland, including those who rule, is re-interpreting Muslim textbooks, leaving religion to the individual, transforming all institutions to meet people’s needs now and installing an accountable and transparent mechanism whereby the people are in charge of their country’s safety, prosperity and destiny. This will take time to blossom, but the time to start is now before violence becomes the only hope for people to realize their dreams and become the authors of their fate.

    Finally and based on first hand experiences, I found Saudi women to be the most resilient people I have ever met, worked with, befriended and watched since I was a child in the oppressed southern region of the vast land of Arabia. Sadly and inexplicably, the theocratic and autocratic iron-fisted ruling men are not taking notice of the people’s aspirations and based on their history and state of mind they are not likely going to change until they have no choice. By then it will be too late for everyone. Read article
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/11/28/what_do_saudi_women_want

  24. 07/ديسمبر/2011

    ما لا يقال عن مستقبل السعودية تحت حكم سلمان ونايف

    تحليل مركز الديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان في السعودية – واشنطن

    إن تعيين الأمير نايف لولاية العهد في السعودية وتعيين شقيقه الأمير سلمان وزيرا للدفاع دليل واضح على أن الجناح السديري المتشدد الذي يقوده الأميران قد تمكن من حكم البلاد مرة أخرى. وبالنظر إلى تاريخ الأميرين وتوجهاتهما فإن من المتوقع أن مستقبل السعودية تحت سيطرتهما لا يبشر بخير ولا يوحي ببارقة أمل في الإصلاح. ولا نبالغ إن توقعنا أن الشعب السعودي سيعاني القمع وسيذوق الويلات تحت حكم الأميرين لأنهما من أشد المعارضين للتغيير وأكثر من يدعمون التيار الديني المتشدد داخل وخارج السعودية.

    يشترك الأميران – كما ذكرنا – في رفضهما القاطع لأي إصلاح من شأنه إشراك الشعب في تقرير مصيره وسن القوانين وتنفيذها ونقل البلاد إلى الإزدهار والتقدم وسيادة القانون وإرساء الحقوق والحريات وحمايتها ومحاسبة الفاسدين والمساواة بين جميع فئات المجتمع. كما أن الأميرين من أشد المتمسكين ببقاء الوضع على ما هو عليه باستخدام الدين كأداة للبقاء في الحكم وبدعم رجال الدين ومنحهم الصلاحيات الكاملة والحصانة اللازمة لقمع الشعب. بالإضافة إلى ذلك فقد اشتهرا بانتهاج سياسة القبضة الأمنية لإسكات جميع الأصوات المطالبة بالإصلاح والتغيير سواء بتهديدهم وأخذ التعهدات عليهم أو بإيداعهم السجون دون اعتبار لما يجري في العالم العربي من ثورات ضد الأنظمة الدكتاتورية والسياسات والقوانين التعسفية وتفشي الفساد في جميع القطاعات وخاصة في مؤسسات الدولة.

    إن من أبرز الأمثلة التي تؤكد استعداد الأمير نايف لقمع الشعب والوقوف في وجه المطالب الحقوقية مهما كلف الأمر هو تصريحه لمجموعة من الإصلاحيين المطالبين بملكية دستورية عند لقائه بهم في عام 2003 الذي قال فيه “إن ما أخذناه بالسيف نحميه بالسيف”. وهذا يعني أنه يعتبر الدولة ملكا خاصا بالعائلة الحاكمة تتصرف فيه كما تشاء. ولا يخفى على أحد طريقة توظيف نايف لرجال الدين ورجال الأمن – الذين من المفترض أن يكونوا في خدمة المواطنين وتأمين سلامتهم – في ترويع الشعب والقضاء على آماله.

    ومن تصريحاته المشهورة في دعم التيار الديني الذي يمقته الشعب قوله “إن الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر ركن سادس من أركان الإسلام”.

    ولا تقتصر سياسة نايف الأمنية على قمع المواطنين السعوديين فحسب بل تمتد إلى كل من يطالب بالعدالة الاجتماعية والحقوق الشرعية خارج السعودية كما حدث في البحرين بإرسال قوات درع الجزيرة التي يقف الأمير نايف خلف إنشائها من أجل التأكيد على منع أي حكم ديمقراطي في الجزيرة العربية، وكما يظهر من دفاعه واستضافته للحكام المطرودين كحسني مبارك وزين العابدين، وعلي عبد الله صالح.

    ولا يختلف الأمير سلمان كثيرا عن نايف في تأييده للتيار الديني وتبنيه النهج الأمني لقمع المطالبين بالإصلاح مهما كلف الأمر فقد اشتهر بدفاعه المستميت عن الوهابية التي يعتبرها الإسلام الحقيقي. كما يؤكد تصريحه أثناء زيارته للقوات الجوية مؤخرا بأن “استقرار المجتمع يعتمد على قوة القوات المسلحة” إصراره على الإبقاء على سياسة القمع وعدم الالتفات إلى المطالب الشرعية للشعب.

    والسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو: ما الذي يمنع الأسرة الحاكمة في السعودية من الاستفادة من دروس التاريخ والحاضر التي تؤكد أن إرادة الشعوب لا يمكن قهرها وأن النظم الدكتاتورية مصيرها إلى زوال وأن الاستجابة لمطالب الشعب هي ما يحقق الأمن والاستقرار؟

  25. Cindy Ridgway

    Saudi women would be better off dead…and its plain to see the men do not want women other than for slaves. its been that way for years and its starting here in the US as well. ALL women need to band together and stop this stuff. If every woman who had access to a car in Saudi drove tomorrow,the courts would be so full and the men would be bitching that they had to take care of the kids.

    • Ali Alyami

      Saudi Women: A Force to be Reckoned With

      CDHR’s Commentary: One of the most game-changing developments in Saudi Arabia’s recent history has been the Saudi women’s evolutionary demands for their rights. Known for their resilience and extraordinary ability to cope with institutional repression, Saudi women are saying enough is enough. Rising levels of education and increased access to communication tools like the Internet have made Saudi women better informed of their political, economic and social rights. They are organizing and unabashedly pursuing these rights despite risks to their safety and wellbeing.

      Driving rights and equal employment for women are among the most hotly contested issues in Saudi Arabia today. Saudi women are also demanding the removal of the male guardian system, calling for safer educational facilities and campaigning for a modern educational curriculum that respects the contributions of women. Some of these demands are being recognized and implemented.

      This reality presents a challenge to the male-dominated ruling elite of Saudi Arabia. Having long marginalized women, Saudi authorities, as well as the tightly controlled political and religious institutions they represent, are at odds over to how to deal with women in the 21st century. All indications point to a triumph of modernity over men’s inexplicable gender paranoia.

      While the House of Saud is aware of women’s demands and the consequences of denying them their rights, the Saudi religious establishment remains adamantly opposed to change. In an attempt to maintain support among their indoctrinated followers, Saudi religious institutions continue to condemn women’s rights ideas, using arcane religious textbooks to advance the notion that women are inferior to men.

      Empowering Saudi women is not only good for Saudi society, but for the international community as well. The gains women are making have created an irreparable split dividing the country’s political and religious powers. In September 2009, for instance, King Abdullah announced that after consultation with Ulama, women would be allowed to vote in municipal elections and would be able to secure appointments to the national Shura Council in 2015. Though the elections are largely a cosmetic exercise and the Shura council lacks substantive political power, senior cleric Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, nonetheless accused the king of lying.

      “I wish the king did not say that he consulted senior clerics,” al-Lohaidan said in a rare public display of dissent. “When I heard the speech and what was said about consultation, without a doubt I had no knowledge of it before hearing the king’s speech.” Regardless of discordance between the two ruling political and religious dynasties, women are gaining strength, support and steady recognition at home and abroad. Their success seems to be the only hope for positive changes in Saudi Arabia.

  26. Pingback: Very important Message from a Saudi Woman | Jean Sasson

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