Prominent Saudis: Ms. Wajeha Al Huwaider

wajehaMs. Huwaider started off as an employee at Aramco with an occasional piece published mostly in Al Watan newspaper. She’s a divorcee and mother who had accompanied her then husband for studies in the USA and I believe that life there had had a huge influence on her.  Her presence as an activist snuck up on the Saudi government and the religious establishment until they finally resorted to banning her from all forms of Saudi media in 2003. On August fourth 2006 she took things into her own hands and single-handedly staged a protest by walking on foot with a poster demanding Saudi women rights on the King Fahad bridge between Bahrain and Riyadh. She was stopped and detained for questioning by the Saudi government for six hours. That same year she tried to get a group of Saudi women to organize a protest in the Eastern region where they would all drive cars. Unfortunately they backed out at the last minute. In 2007 she and three other women started a petition for women driving and they even went to the malls and the streets to get signatures. Three weeks into the petition they were able to gather 1100 that they then DHLed to the King’s office in Jeddah. However, what she is most famous for is the video last year in which she drove a car in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia and at the same time addressed the King in a plea to legalize women driving. Many Saudis criticize her because they believe she is out to air Saudi Arabia’s dirty laundry in front of the world. I think that these people are not aware that she has extensively written about these rights in Saudi media and in Arabic and that she is currently banned from doing so. Her Arabic writing is emotive and seems almost like poetry. She definitely has a talent for it. But that sort of writing in Arabic when writing about anything outside of religion rubs our conservatives the wrong way. They can’t even take logic and science if it disagrees with them.

When I asked a group of my mother’s generation about her, they called her subversive, disobedient, and disloyal to her religion, family and country. They also felt bad for Huwaider’s parents. And a group of women of my generation didn’t know who she is and after telling them, they shrugged their shoulders. I guess they are more aware of whatever they are currently showing on MBC 4. I also asked my husband what he thought of her and he just frowned. I think he’s worried that there might be an inner Wajeha lurking inside of me, squirming to get out. Most likely she won’t be appreciated and celebrated until my daughter’s generation and only as long as a Taliban-like government doesn’t take over and execute her or throw acid in her face.  She told Turki Al Dakheel in a 2007 TV interview that she gets lots of hate mail with prayers that she contracts a deadly disease or at least gets her hand cut off. She also said that websites hosting her writing have been hacked several times.

Huwaider is a woman to be respected for her sacrifices. She had a stable life as an educated married mother and she sacrificed it for the women of her country. If you are interested here’s a link to a BBC radio interview she did in February.

What Huwaider is calling for in women and labour workers’ rights will never take root in Saudi Arabia unless a mass of the population calls for it. Why would the government rock the boat when the heard majority is happy with things as they are?

48 Comments

Filed under Freedom of speech, Prominent Saudis, Women campaigns

48 responses to “Prominent Saudis: Ms. Wajeha Al Huwaider

  1. Norah

    Its a shame how our country perceives differences. Personally, I believe there are more important issues, other priorities in my opinion, and basic rights that should be fought for more then driving. There are places in Saudi Arabia were women are prohibited from learning or working. There are trails and courts that abuse the fact that women are dependent on men.

    Saudi Arabia is a new nation … less then 100 years. Don’t expect things to change so quickly. and keep in mind , though the U.S gained independence in 1776 yet women were in suffrage till the early 1900s.

    We should start first by educating women and inform them their rights as civilians, women and Muslims.

  2. BCIS

    Why would the government rock the boat when the heard majority is happy with things as they are?

    They won’t.

    Until Saudi women realize that the only way they will ever see real change (i.e. basic human rights granted) is when they’re willing to risk their marriages, and in some cases their lives, for that change. As all women have had to do through time (even those who fought for the right to vote in the US), as all oppressed people have had to do throughout history. Black Americans would still be at the back of the bus if they hadn’t said no more, risked their lives, and those of their children (and a lot of them died, were abused, and jailed), in order for them to receive the same basic rights as white Americans; and this was only 40 – 50 years ago, and even with a black president, we still have a ways to go. So…if Saudi women get up now…in about a 100 years or so…they to may have basic human rights in Saudi Arabia.

  3. r1

    “.. as long as a Taliban-like government doesn’t take over and execute her or throw acid in her face.”

    so you’re comparing the your country to the taliban now?

  4. Kate

    What a brave and courageous woman, especially for being willing to protest alone. I don’t think I could say the same for myself, even if it is much safer to do so in my country.

  5. Kalimaat

    I have watched her being interviewed on TV a couple of times. She does not just tackle the driving for women issue only but equality for Saudi women. I have a lot of respect for her as a woman who stands up for what she believes.

  6. suliman

    she is a good activist but not 100% honest in reporting the news and when giving statistics. When she talked about the old woman story,on CNN, she didn’t give the correct details on that issue. She never mentioned the 20 years old daughter who was in the house when the two men were insid.

    Wish you good luck with her but I am sure she is going nowhere since she is not doing it the right way.

  7. Hala

    I never heard about Ms. Al- Huwaider before her call for women driving, I guess that this is due to the media exalting of certain figures who wouldn’t significantly leave any marks while ignoring true reformers like Ms. Wajiha, thank you for mentioning her here, she definitely deserves to be known so as her message

  8. BCIS

    20 year old daughter in the house? I’ve read numerous accounts on the story of the old lady and I’ve never read anything about a 20 year old daughter at home. And, if she did…was the girl, “OK” for them to fend for themselves…as this would have made this woman over 50 when she had her…and we know that greatly increases the risk of developmental disorders. I don’t buy it…making excuses for this…is like making excuses for why the mattawa would not let girls outside of a burning building because they weren’t properly covered. It’s despicable!!

  9. Thanks for sharing the video and the audio clips of this great Saudi woman. I’d like to think that some day her name will go down with the other great feminists of the world who have made things better for, not only women, but all humans.

    I found the reactions you got very interesting – from disdain to total apathy. Not surprising, of course, but interesting😉

    I’m really enjoying your blog and have added it to my blogroll.

    Thanks for the god work!

    • saudiwoman

      Hi Sand gets in my eyes
      Thank you so much. I’ve been reading your blog on and off long before I even started blogging and find it informative, fair and brave.
      Eman

  10. Umm Latifa

    salam alaykum, I’ve heard and read about Ms. Al-Huwaider long time ago (although I am not a Saudi ;)) but this post brings more interesting information about her. Thank you Eman. Though, the question which comes to my mind is: for how many Saudi women Mrs. Al-Huwaider really stands for? Reading your post Eman, seems that not many… Don’t you think that if Saudi women want a change, one Wajiha will not do? Knowing Saudi women and culture here, I find it difficult to imagine them (you😉 standing united for a cause… Is it possible Eman? What do you think? Regarding “Wajeha in you”, haha, these thoughts crossed my mind long ago.

  11. Sara Alsheikh

    she is my IDOL!!…I Have the utmost respect for her and I wish her all the best!!

    Hopefully when I grow up, I’ll stand beside her next time she Protests =D !!

  12. I admire Wajeha. Does anyone know how I can contact her? Does she have a website?

  13. Thank you Wajeha for all that you are doing – stay strong. We hope and pray that one day gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and anywhere else ends. Please tell us what we can do to help. To everyone – we are concerned about our fellow Canadian citizen, Nazia Quazi – stranded in Riyadh, since 2007, unable to come home to Canada without her father’s permission. Please write to our Minister of Foreign Affairs to demand that he help Nazia return home. Please see our website at http://www.mpvottawa.com for more info.

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  15. Wajeha is a trouble maker, she might get her self killed.
    I lover her .. she is sooooooo brave!
    no one would have the guts to do what Wajeha is doing.. that girl rocks!
    I really hope to meet her oneday! she is my hero.

  16. Well shes a Shiah leturd. No one wants to marry her. The guys who did got rid of her. Her mother and father are embarrassed of her. Ur husband doesn’t like her. BUT YOU DO!
    bring her along maybe over the years the two of you can progress into excepting an alternate way of life and raise adopted kids togthwr and work for judeo Christian or Shiaht organizations and continue to writes against KSA and the Muslims and the moralists and the conservatives and eventually againsT all throats and then against God. I’m sure you believe that God is woman who drives cars? Right…? Come one… Admit it.
    You make ibless sooooooo proud.
    Come on over I have a house a job and a car ready for you to live here onthe US of A! just get out of that country that you hate sooooooo much. Get me in there to ‘suffer’ w a smile on my face.

    • amber al-sardi

      You are clearly uninformed on the issues. Your level of ignorance makes me sad. As ignorance breeds fear, it would be in your best interest to learn a bit.

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  21. Sally

    We had the suffragettes in the UK and they risked their lives chaining themselves to railway lines to give women the vote. They didn’t have all the support they should have had at the time from women but we are all grateful to them now. Women must rise up and fight for their rights both large and small. Dont allow men to be in control. Take control of your own lives, do what YOU want, not what you are told to do. It is hard but it is worth it in the long run.

  22. hakami

    does any one know how i can contact wajeha al-huwaider

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  24. Andrés Castellanos

    Buenos días Wajiha Al Huwiedar, soy Colombiano vi una noticia tuya sobre la postulación de la fifa, me parece bien que alguien diferente quiera tomar ese puesto y adrle un mejor rumbo al fútbol femenino que lo tienen tan discriminado.
    Soy entrenador de fútbol femenino en bogota nuestro club se llama besser fc, me gustaria saber mas sobre como hacen ustedes para tener fútbol femenino en su país y si existe apoyo del alguien.
    Un saludo desde Colombia y disculpa no haberte escrito en english o en otro idioma…

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  38. Sharon Brown

    Women of the world, “Support our sisters In Saudi Arabia” !!♥♥♥ Good Luck!!

  39. naz ali

    “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have a say in it”!!! [Qur’an 33:36].

    “They ask your legal instruction concerning women, say: Allah instructs you about them…” [Qur’an 4:127]

    I would like to address you 1st as non-Muslims for consensus of authentic Islamic scholars is as follows: “if someone says that Hijaab or Niqaab is not Islamic or is sign of backwardness or says alcohol is like water it’s Halal or make jokes about Islam then he/she becomes KAFIR as any Islamic ruling denied or looked down upon is kufr & there’s no Shifa of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) for kafirs!! But if someone doesn’t practice it & says that I’m weak then they’re Muslims” this also includes the the law as Allah says in Qur’an that: “And he who does not rule by what Allah sent down, it is they who are the disbelievers.” (5:44) (so secularism & democracy is KUFR)
    ..and continues: “O you who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger, and the people in authority among you. And if you dispute over anything, refer it back to Allah and His Messenger if you really believe in Allah and the Last Day that is best in terms of consequences.” (4:59) “But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full] submission”.
    (Quran, Surah 4. “Women”, verse 65)
    Would you not fight people who violated their treaties, tried to banish the messenger, and they are the ones who started the war in the first place? Are you afraid of them? GOD is the One you are supposed to fear, if you are believers, You shall fight them, for GOD will punish them at your hands, humiliate them, grant you victory over them, and cool the chests of the believers. (9:13-14)

    O you who believe! If you give victory to Allah, He will grant you with victory and will make your foothold firm. (surat Muhammad verse 7) “The judgment is His, and to Him you shall return.” (28:88)
    Allah says: “He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and Religion of the Truth, which WILL prevail over all other religions. And Allah is sufficient as a Witness.” (48:28)

    And thus we should say to you that please come to The Truth for Death do NOT make appointments so be ready to face Allah…

    “Never will succeed such a nation as lets their affairs carried out by a woman.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 82, Fitan, 18; Tirmidhi, Fitan, 75; Nasai, Qudat, 8; Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 43, 51, 38, 47).

    “And get two witnesses, out of your own men And if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her ” (al-Baqara, 2/282).

    Hadith – Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.123, Narrated Abu Huraira
    Allah’s Apostle said, “It is not lawful for a lady to fast (Nawafil) without the permission of her husband when he is at home; and she should not allow anyone to enter his house except with his permission; and if she spends of his wealth (on charitable purposes) without being ordered by him, he will get half of the reward.”

    Due to few severely harsh ahadith in Sahih Bukkhari consensus of authentic Islamic scholars is as follows: “if someone says that Hijaab or Niqaab is not Islamic or is sign of backwardness or says alcohol is like water it’s Halal or make jokes about Islam then he/she becomes KAFIR as any Islamic ruling denied or looked down upon is kufr & there’s no Shifa of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) for kafirs!! But if someone doesn’t practice it & says that I’m weak then they’re Muslims”

    ”A nation which placed its affairs in the hands of a woman shall never prosper!” (Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami` as-Sahih, hadith no. 4425)

  40. Shahid Raki

    All of the rights that a Saudi man has a Saudi woman should also have. The Holy Quran and Islam gave women equal rights and there have been overbearing, egotistical men who have worked to suppress everything that a woman in Saudi was given. What does a woman do if she has no father, brother, uncle, husband, son or other male relative? Is she suposed to die because of these laws from the Jahiliyyah? Women are the human beings who bring all of life into the world, teach all of these same individuals, and first and foremost, nurture the world. No man can ever do that. He is incapable. There are too many men in the world who are determined to place and keep a woman under their thumb of control. They would no want anyone to do that to them.

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  45. Naveed ulhaq

    Why saudi Govt is so afraid of public

  46. Why visitors still use too read news papers when in this technological
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