My piece in Newsweek: No Sacred Space

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undergoing its third round of municipal elections. The first round was held in 2005 to much fanfare, whilst the second was slated for 2009 but in fact delayed until 2011. Women were excluded in those first two municipal elections. The participation of women only became possible this third time around, after a royal decree by Saudi’s previous ruling monarch, King Abdullah.

With the exception of the inclusion of women, these elections faced a great deal of apathy, mainly because they are elections for municipalities that only concern urban development. Some see it as a distraction from demanding basic rights and more influential political participation. Others believe that these elections are held mainly for international media consumption to improve Saudi’s image abroad. Moreover, the elections are only for two-thirds of local council seats while the other third, as well as the head of the municipality, are appointed by the government. Thus, potential winners are unlikely to have much executive power. This has not stopped candidates from making promises and running under manifestos that show that they aspire for much more than they have the authority to deliver. Some of these include the promise to open up employment opportunities and to end corruption. CLICK HERE TO READ ON

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18 responses to “My piece in Newsweek: No Sacred Space

  1. Kashif

    ما شاء الله

    • David

      Hello, I have been studying several blogs for one of my classes in university and came across yours. I find the information you gave very insightful and frankly I had no idea that women would still be excluded in elections in 2011! Furthermore, I find your reflection that the elections are mainly to appease the people and for outside media intriguing. I would have thought there would have been more choice by the people than that. That being said however, I agree that this is a massive step in the right direction!

  2. Hi Eman, thank you for sharing your views on the municipal elections. You said: “Proof of residency is another obstacle that has deterred women from registering because most women in Saudi Arabia do not own property.” Why so, when Islam gives women the right to own property?

  3. Saudi Municipal Elections A Charade That Attracted Global Curiosity And Temporary Domestic Euphoria
    CDHR’s Commentary: For those of us who were born, raised and have lived under the absolute Saudi rule, any diversionary glimpse of allusive hope can by celebrated and considered a triumph of disproportionate magnitude. The euphoric sentiments expressed by some Saudi women because some of them were handpicked by the Saudi regime to participate in practically meaningless and misleading municipal elections for the first time in their country’s history are real, even though the outcome of the election is inconsequential. “Female candidates expressed pride in running, even if they didn’t think they would win, while women voters, some of them tearful, said they were happy at finally being able to do something they had only seen on television or in movies.”

    After centuries of ostracism and vilification of women in Arabia, it is not surprising to see domestic elation among many Saudi women and some intense global interest and mixed reactions by some journalists and human rights activists and groups. This global interest is attributed to Saudi Arabia’s second-to-none oppression of women and to the economic, religious and strategic roles that barren kingdom plays in Muslims’ and non-Muslims’ lives, including incubating, exporting and financing extremists and terrorists worldwide.

    Despite the Saudi regime’s devious motive, as exemplified by the manner in which the municipal elections were structured and by the multitude of formidable hurdles imposed on women candidates and voters, the empowering psychological impact cannot be written off or ignored by the Saudi oligarchs.

    While the Saudi royals and their anti-modernity, misogynistic clerics have no intention of sharing any say in any decision-making processes with their “Ra-e-yah” (herd), these disingenuous steps will replace temporary euphoria with inescapable demands for real power-sharing. Regardless of Saudi religious and political ruling families’ well-calculated stratagems to keep Saudi women oppressed and society divided along gender, religious and regional lines, the ruling elitists are losing the battle against human evolution and their severely disenfranchised population’s aspiration for the right to be counted and to be in charge of their destiny.

  4. Nice, interesting post… thanks for posting!

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  12. Roula Allam

    Hi, I’m the editor at Sayidaty English, wondering if you would like to write a piece for us. Please get in touch if you are interested.

  13. After centuries of ostracism and vilification of women in Arabia, it is not surprising to see domestic elation among many Saudi women and some intense global interest and mixed reactions by some journalists and human rights activists and groups

  14. CDHR’s Commentary: For those of us who were born, raised and have lived under the absolute Saudi rule, any diversionary glimpse of allusive hope can by celebrated and considered a triumph of disproportionate magnitude

  15. While the Saudi royals and their anti-modernity, misogynistic clerics have no intention of sharing any say in any decision-making processes with their “Ra-e-yah” (herd), these disingenuous steps will replace temporary euphoria with

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