Sheikh Al Najaimi who announced his support for the Al Barak fatwa that anyone who calls for gender desegregation should be killed was caught last month attending a women’s day conference in Kuwait. The conference’s attendees were mostly women and there was no segregation at all. He sat for hours with women and even had a meal with them. When he got back to Saudi Arabia, he told everyone that the majority of women were menopausal and as such it is Islamically allowed for him to socialize with them. Of course, this is not true. In the Quran, the verse is very clear that it is the woman’s decision whether or not to announce that she is post-menopausal and just being menopausal is not enough, she has to have no interest in men too. However, Al Najaimi took it upon himself to make this milestone decision on behalf of all the women attending the conference. Moreover he proclaimed that those who weren’t post menopause confessed to him that they were committing a sin by not covering!
And then the Deputy Minister of Girl’s Education Ms. Nora Al Faiz, made it a point to appear in photos taken at official meetings in full face cover to even more discredit the photo of her face that was highly publicized when she was first appointed. I’ve met a few teachers since then and they keep telling me that they or other colleagues are uncomfortable with such a liberal woman!
At the same time, King Abdullah had a photograph of him and Princess Mozah, the ruler of Qatar’s wife, on the first page of most major newspapers in Saudi. And then another photo of the king and Prince Sultan with a group of Saudi women, many with their faces uncovered surfaced everywhere. And this one had the names of those women published alongside it as if to show that tribal Saudi women from old families have no issue with having their pictures in newspapers.
It is rumored here and here that recently a Saudi woman declared on a forum that she will stand in the middle of a major highway in Riyadh and burn her face cover and hijab, she was apprehended within a few hours of posting. She goes by the name of Wedad Khalid and lives in a posh area of Riyadh. On her post (I haven’t seen it personally) it is reported that she was going to do it on June 12th 2010 and she invited people to video tape it. She also stated that a couple of years in prison are worth standing up to the hypocrisy of Saudi society. It was reported that within a couple of hours she was reported, tracked down and arrested.
It’s a crazy time to be a Saudi woman. You’re pulled in every direction and a simple and personal decision like covering or uncovering your face decides your spirituality and political stance and affects everything from family to career.