Saudi activists ‘hibernate’ after series of arrests

The first time I came across Waleed Abulkhair’s name was about five years ago, when I was following Samar Badawi’s case. Badawi was being abused by her father, and despite medical and psychological reports from Saudi hospitals and shelters proving this, a court ruled in her father’s favor and sent Badawi to prison on charges of disobeying her father.

For seven months, Waleed Abulkhair desperately tried to get her released, but to no avail. He then proposed that they go public, with an online campaign about Badawi’s situation. She agreed, and the ensuing publicity shamed the courts into releasing her within six days from the start of the campaign, which immediately went viral. Abulkhair proposed marriage to Badawi, and it took six months of court procedures to release her from her father’s guardianship to Abulkhair’s. One of my favorite interviews is a 2011 BBC radio program featuring the couple, during which they talk about their love. Badawi is currently eight months pregnant with their first child.
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14 responses to “Saudi activists ‘hibernate’ after series of arrests

  1. Thanks for the work you do and the issues you highlight. Brave lady. I am neither Saudi nor a woman. But we are all part of the same humanity so the fact that I am neither should not matter. Big story at the moment in the international press is the story of the Sudani woman raised as a Christian but now sentenced to death (after her child is born) for apostasy. You have the same sharia rule in KSA. Any comment?

  2. Savagery Continues to Rule
    CDHR’s Commentary: Sentencing Raef Badawi on May 7, 2014 to 10 years in prison, one thousand lashes (dehumanizing flogging in public squares) and monetary penalty of $267 thousand for expressing a simple opinion (public policy ought not to be determined by religion) is not out of the ordinary under the Saudi autocratic and theocratic retributive system. Arbitrary confinement, flogging and beheadings are not the exceptions in Saudi Arabia; they are the norms as defined by Shariah (Islamic arbitrary law) and whimsically implemented by a sectarian judicial system. These cruel punishments are enshrined on the pillars upon which the Saudi state was founded and continue to operate. The founders of the Saudi kingdom and their ruling descendants have been using religion as a tool of intimidation, exploitation, discrimination and suppression since the formation of the Saudi/Wahhabi alliance in the middle of the 18 century.
    The acrimonious sentencing of Raif Badawi and many other Saudi reformers (many of whom are languishing in Saudi prisons) are not because of crimes they committed against the public or the state, but for promoting political participation, freedom of expression, social justice and government’s accountability. Promoting these humane and empowering values is considered threats to the Saudi kingdom’s stability, antithetical to God’s will and insult to Islam; accusations that amount to apostasy, a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim lands. Furthermore, advocates of freedom of expression and democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia are equated with atheism and terrorism. They are accused of promoting infidels’ social and political values which are not only adversative to Islamic teachings, but designed to abolish Islam and subjugate its adherents.
    By continuing its policy of severe punishments against a generation of educated, worldly and aspiring men and women, the Saudi regime is increasingly revealing its malign side, eroding its legitimacy, credibility and suitability to rule at a time when the Arab East is going through a transformative revolution against oppression, embezzlement of public wealth and tyrannical regimes, some of whose practices are milder than the Saudi autocratic dynasty’s. Due to its possession of substantial oil reserves and large investments in Western businesses and treasuries, the Saudi rulers have thus far escaped Western condemnation for their severe violations of basic human rights as exemplified by Raif Badawi’s and other Saudi reformers’ unwarranted harsh sentencing for crimes they did not commit.
    Given the bold and wide-spread domestic demands for reforms, the abrupt regional revolts against tyranny, global reassessments of Saudi ideological threats and Saudi dwindling economic and strategic significance, the Saudi princes have two options, either continue to depend on the sword to maintain absolute control or share legislative powers with their increasingly restless and impatient population. The latter is the logical and safer option because the old order is unsustainable even by the sword. To go this route will need a modern, pragmatic and visionary leadership which seems to be in short supply at this time.

  3. i think ‘hibernation’ is an inappropriate metaphor. When bears hibernate they wake up ravenous and wanting to feed themselves so they can feed their newborn cubs born near the end of the winter. Nothing stops them in their search for food so they can take care of their cubs.
    This being driven underground looks more like the suspended animation of Sigourney Weaver and her fellow travellers in Alien. They wake up only to battle terrifying carnivorous creatures bent on their destruction.
    The decision to self-censor in the KSA is understandable but troubling. There is no idea of when this quietude will end or, indeed if it will end.

    • mizliz

      Frothquaffer, I agree with the term “hibernation” which you so beautifully explained. There were other “bears” who had had enough and did something about it which the world called the Arab Spring.

      I fear the majority of those living in KSA are just too comfortable not risking what they receive from the monarchy to truly embrace the freedom that the majority of the world enjoys.

  4. I was happy to know this fantastic couple in Jeddah in March 2013. They represent a new generation of those who fight for human rights in Saudi Arabia. I discussed long time with Walid Abu al-Kheir, husband of Samar Badawi and also her lawyer when she was fighting against terrible father and blind authorities of Jeddah. These persons and other Saudis of same qualities and same courage do fight also for other Saudis thinking that one day also this absolute monarchy and absolutely totalitarian state will change. A great Italian judge, who was fighting against mafia, said, before he was killed with a bomb together with his wife and policemen protecting him, that every thing has a start but also the end. I believe and hope that also Saudi tyranny has an end one day.
    Liisa Liimatainen, Finnish journalist, writer of the book, Another Saudi Arabia – Brave women and Cyber Youth, published in Finnish in October 2013 with the Finnish name: Saudi-Arabian toiset kasvot – Rohkeita naisia ja kybernuoria (Editor Like, 408 pages).

  5. OyiaBrown

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  6. Reblogged this on Pippakin Around the World and commented:
    The west should be far more proactive in support of those brave enough to challenge the might of Sharia in Islamic extremist countries like Saudi Arabia.

  7. Alois Saint-Martin

    No Demonstration, without Confrontation. what began with a street vendors immolation in Tunisia, has become a Global Event. despite recent hipster liberalist mitigated setbacks in Egypt and Thailand, recent victory’s in Chile and Ireland urge us to carry on.

    Support The Arab Spring !

  8. marianna68

    I have only been to the Middle East once, UAE and Oman. It shocked me that Saudia which is located on the same peninsula as these 2 countries would treat women so abhorrently. I am glad this woman has a happier ending and pray one day Saudi women are freed from the shackles of misguided men who seem to think they know better than the women themselves on how to live a fruitful life.

  9. marianna68

    Reblogged this on Life in These United States and commented:
    It saddens me to read about these kinds of stories where women are still shackled to misguided men just because they are women. Where does it say in the Koran women cannot drive, that they must veil their heads? Why are they continued being treated like children? Why are they being held accountable in such horrific ways simply because they ARE a woman?? Do not these men have mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters?? Am glad that in this instance Samar Badawi story has a happier ending. God bless her.

  10. Dawood

    You should not talk like that , if you were really born here .
    If you are a muslim u should first think about your religon and how to descripe it there properly , you have nations to tell , Dont mix up between things ,
    Even if life isnt Fare , we should as muslims be paitent and ask our only god “Allah”for that .
    You gotta think about it and admit that we have a close culture and we re ok with it .
    We need nobody to talk or to fix .
    We wanna make our minds busy with islamic obligations . You stop talking like you re among us .

  11. as salaamu alaikum to all.
    why is it that it seems as if Saudi women know more about the west than their own deen?
    they seem to prefer the ways of the kuffaar & seem to look towards them & their lifestyles as being better than Islam.
    if they are unhappy about something, they should first see if their views comply with the teachings of Shariah.
    if they are correct, insha allah they should go forward & voice their unhappiness/displeasure.
    otherwise, they should adopt sabr & turn to Allah ta’ala.
    i know that theres many things wrong in Saudi but lots of times i notice that Saudi women complain about things when they themselves are wrong.

  12. Thank you for the review, i believe they did the right thing and i wish them a happy life, i believe all cases should go public, let the people decide not just some maniac judge.

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