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Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

Islam’s equality between men and women is indeed guaranteed; there is no doubt about it except in the minds of the ignorant, be they non-Muslims or Muslims whose knowledge of Islam is shallow.

الجنة تحت أقدام الأمهات Paradise is under the feet of mothers,” says one hadith (tradition) of Prophet Muhammad (ص). Mind you; he (ص) did not say “under the feet of fathers.” Another tradition runs as follows:

خيركم خيركم لأهله، و أنا خيركم لأهلي؛ لا يكرمهن الا كريم و لا يهينهن الا لئيم

“The best of you (in the sight of God) is one who treats his wife best, and I am the best of you in treating mine. None is kind to them except one blessed with generosity, and none insults them except a mean, lowly wretch.”

Numerous verses in the Holy Qur’an enjoin the faithful to respect and honor women. An entire Qur’anic Chapter, Al Nisaa, Women, is dedicated to women and in defense of women and their rights. No other scripture in the entire history of the world has ever contained such honoring. It starts with,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person (Adam), created of like nature his mate (Eve), (and) from them scattered numerous men and women. Fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights, and reverence the wombs (that bore you), for Allah ever watches over you. (Qur’an, 4:1)

 

In the Chapter that precedes it, we read the following:

فأجاب الله دعاءهم بأنه لا يضيع جهد مَن عمل منهم عملا صالحًا ذكرًا كان أو أنثى, وهم في أُخُوَّة الدين وقَبول الأعمال والجزاء عليها سواء, فالذين هاجروا رغبةً في رضا الله تعالى, وأُخرجوا من ديارهم, وأوذوا في طاعة ربهم وعبادتهم إيّاه, وقاتلوا وقُتِلوا في سبيل الله لإعلاء كلمته, ليسترنَّ الله عليهم ما ارتكبوه من المعاصي, كما سترها عليهم في الدنيا, فلا يحاسبهم عليها, وليدخلنَّهم جنات تجري من تحت قصورها وأشجارها الأنهار جزاء من عند الله, والله عنده حسن الثواب.

Never will I ever waste the doing of a doer (of good) among you, whether male or female, each one of you being from the other. (Qur’an, 3:195)

To elaborate will turn this article into a voluminous book, although many a writer in the West is busy, even at this very moment, writing something against Islam, claiming that it demeans women, that it places them only in the harem, in the kitchen, or in a man’s chamber… Those who have already done so are now reaping the rewards of their blasphemy. We do not wish to defile these pages by mentioning their names or the titles of their trash. Such sinister, slanderous, prejudiced, biased and ignorant writers ought to read their scriptures—if they have any—then ours to see how Mary mother of Jesus (ع) (alaihis-salam, peace be upon him), or Asiya wife of Pharaoh, are portrayed. But those whose hearts are full of animosity towards Islam and Muslims will never be able to see the light of the truth; they prefer to see what they want to see, through their own dark tinted glasses, and nothing else, feeling happy about their blindness, enjoying the fame and riches awarded to them by an equally prejudiced and anti-Islamic information and news media.

Gone are the days in the Arabian Peninsula, where Islam was born, when a poetess like Tamadur al-Khansa, whose poetry was cherished by the Prophet of Islam (ص), used to extol her brethren to fight in defense of the creed, offering all her brothers to be sacrificed for Islam, urging all other women to do likewise, instilling the fire of zeal in the hearts of the faithful, frightening the foe…, the aged woman that she was. Even during the darkest periods of Arabia’s Jahiliyya, the days of ignorance, there were women like Khawlah daughter of al-Azwar who took to the sword to redress the downtrodden and affect justice and equity on behalf of the weak and helpless, defending the poor, assaulting the tyrants and oppressors, returning what was looted to their rightful owners, bringing hope to the hearts filled with dark despair. And gone are the days of renown women like Rabi’a al-Adawiyya or Shajarat al-Durr, the first being a renown philosopher and the second being a shrewd ambitious woman who aspired to reach for the stars and be queen of the Muslims. Gone are those days from the heartland of Islam; instead, dark days have settled where women in Najd and Hijaz receive the very worst of treatment under the nose and with the encouragement of paid clergy more loyal to their monarch than to their Lord.

Islam’s equality between men and women is indeed guaranteed; there is no doubt about it except in the minds of the ignorant, be they non-Muslims or Muslims whose knowledge of Islam is shallow.

A host of Western writers antagonistic towards Islam and Muslims have written extensively on the subject of the status of women in Islam, unfairly accusing Islam of being sexist, of dealing with women unfairly, and the movie industry has promoted their stereotyping the world over. It is truly quite ironic that such charges are piled up against Islam by writers in the West rather than anywhere else in this century. Let these ignorant folks be advised that it was more than fourteen centuries ago when Islam elevated the status of women to the highest peaks, placing them on a pedestal without permitting anyone to exploit them as is the case with women in the West where they remain struggling for their basic human rights, for equality in pay, for fair representation, for an end to sexual harassment and exploitation, and for some respect. Consider the following shameful regressive chronology of events and developments:

It was only until 1964 that female students were granted equality of rights by the Cambridge and Oxford universities. Before 1850, women were not counted as citizens in England, and British women had no personal rights till the year 1882. In France in 587, a meeting was held to determine whether woman had a soul and, hence, whether she could be regarded as a human being. Henry VIII of England forbade women from reading the Bible. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church treated women as second class citizens…

We cannot run out of ammunition in defending our creed, but alas, we cannot help deploring the treatment of women in the country where the call of La ilaha illa-Allah Muhammadun Rasool-Allah was heard for the first time. We cannot say anything good about the status of women reeling under the weight of the oppressive reign of Al Saud, and none is more knowledgeable of their oppression than Saudi women themselves. In one single word, Khawla al-Zoar, a Saudi citizen, sums up the extent of violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia: “incomprehensible.” In order to investigate the extent of accuracy of this assessment, we interviewed on July 7, 1993 a Saudi lady in exile who provided us with disturbing details about the inhumane treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the International Committee for Human Rights in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula (ICHR-GAP), I have been able to interview Sr. Faiza Ahmed and present this report to you, utilizing the wealth of knowledge provided to us by the ICHR-GAP, hoping that the plight of Saudi women will receive a listening ear among those involved in the Saudi political hierarchy. All human rights organizations and the news media are urged to give this topic the attention and exposure it duly deserves.

It was only in 1960, we are told by Sr. Faiza Ahmed, that public education received the attention it deserves from Saudi government officials who then opened the doors for women to contribute to the educational system in their country. For years, Saudi Arabia has been hiring teachers from various countries to teach at schools of various levels, and such dependence has been taxing the country’s budget. Unfortunately, however, education is not available for every Saudi woman. To register at schools or colleges, or to pursue a higher degree, these women must obtain the permission of a male described as wali al amr, a guardian or custodian who may be a father, a brother, a cousin, a husband, or a close relative. Such permission is not required for schooling only, but even for critical cases such as when a woman, or her child, needs an emergency medical operation. Hospitals, Sr. Faiza me, are explicitly instructed not to perform any such operations without the written and signed agreement of the woman’s wali.

Almost all women in Saudi Arabia suffer, including non-Saudi women. Another eye witness to the atrocities to which women in Saudi Arabia are subjected is the writer of this article who spent two years teaching there. He would like to narrate the following incident to you:

I was in Saudi Arabia in 1971-72 when I saw something I never expected to see in the cradle of Islam’s Message. We were three in number: a female teacher, whom I shall call Zahra, her young brother, and myself, in a taxi we hired to take us from Dhahran’s International Airport to Huffof, city capital of Al Ahsa. According to our contracts with the Saudi Ministry of Education, Zahra and I were expected to teach at Huffof. All three of us entered the building housing the Al Ahsa’s Administration of Education in order to receive our transmittal letters addressed to the directors of the schools where we were assigned to teach. I went in one direction, and she went in another. Suddenly I heard a woman screaming, so I rushed in that direction and saw a member of the Saudi religious authorities called mutawwa`een wielding his heavy stick on poor Zahra. As she fell on the ground, her brother, though a young lad, thrust himself between her and the stick whereby the mutawwa` was beating her, receiving his share of the severe beating. Other teachers then yelled to the mutawwa` telling him that that woman was not Saudi, that she did not know that she was not supposed to be there. We found out that in Saudi Arabia there were two Directorates of Education, one for males and one for females. The mutawwa` finally stopped beating Zahra and left the place without offering one word of apology.”

Under the Saudi regime, Sr. Faiza Ahmed tells us in her interview, all rights, be they men’s or women’s, are discarded. But women’s rights are especially trampled upon. Women cannot travel alone. Islam surely does not restrict her movements so long as she safeguards her honor and dignity as she goes to work or school. As is the case with hospitals, women in Saudi Arabia have to have the written permission of their wali before they can be allowed to travel, and even then, they have to be escorted, especially if they travel abroad. A woman waiting in a car or walking in a market can be very rudely approached, even unduly insulted, by religious authorities inquiring about her male escort. Unescorted women will be taken to jail immediately where they may be detained for weeks or even months, depending on their luck in getting their families to know about their ordeal, and on their influence, if any, in the country’s governing system. Their families are in most cases not notified of their confinement.

When it comes to education, certain branches of knowledge, such as political science, exclude women altogether, nor can women practice law; there are no Saudi female lawyers, nor are there unions or guilds, be they for men or for women, not even for teachers.

Gone are the days in the Arabian Peninsula, where Islam was born, when a poetess like Tamadur al-Khansa, whose poetry was cherished by the Prophet of Islam (ص), used to extol her brethren to fight in defense of the creed, offering all her brothers to be sacrificed for Islam, urging all other women to do likewise, instilling the fire of zeal in the hearts of the faithful, frightening the foe…, the aged woman that she was. Even during the darkest periods of Arabia’s Jahiliyya, the days of ignorance, there were women like Khawlah daughter of al-Azwar who took to the sword to redress the downtrodden and affect justice and equity on behalf of the weak and helpless, defending the poor, assaulting the tyrants and oppressors, returning what was looted to their rightful owners, bringing hope to the hearts filled with dark despair. And gone are the days of renown women like Rabi’a al-Adawiyya or Shajarat al-Durr, the first being a renown philosopher and the second being a shrewd ambitious woman who aspired to reach for the stars and be queen of the Muslims. Gone are those days from the heartland of Islam; instead, dark days have settled where women in Najd and Hijaz receive the very worst of treatment under the nose and with the encouragement of paid clergy more loyal to their monarch than to their Lord.

Islam’s equality between men and women is indeed guaranteed; there is no doubt about it except in the minds of the ignorant, be they non-Muslims or Muslims whose knowledge of Islam is shallow.

A host of Western writers antagonistic towards Islam and Muslims have written extensively on the subject of the status of women in Islam, unfairly accusing Islam of being sexist, of dealing with women unfairly, and the movie industry has promoted their stereotyping the world over. It is truly quite ironic that such charges are piled up against Islam by writers in the West rather than anywhere else in this century. Let these ignorant folks be advised that it was more than fourteen centuries ago when Islam elevated the status of women to the highest peaks, placing them on a pedestal without permitting anyone to exploit them as is the case with women in the West where they remain struggling for their basic human rights, for equality in pay, for fair representation, for an end to sexual harassment and exploitation, and for some respect. Consider the following shameful regressive chronology of events and developments:

It was only until 1964 that female students were granted equality of rights by the Cambridge and Oxford universities. Before 1850, women were not counted as citizens in England, and British women had no personal rights till the year 1882. In France in 587, a meeting was held to determine whether woman had a soul and, hence, whether she could be regarded as a human being. Henry VIII of England forbade women from reading the Bible. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church treated women as second class citizens…

We cannot run out of ammunition in defending our creed, but alas, we cannot help deploring the treatment of women in the country where the call of La ilaha illa-Allah Muhammadun Rasool-Allah was heard for the first time…

Saudi women are barred from driving. Islam does not prohibit women from driving cars, but the Saudi society has sought the ruling authority to interfere and seek the endorsement of the religious authorities of this form of hijab. On November 6, 1990, 47 Saudi women from prominent families drove in a 15-car convoy along the King Abdul-Aziz highway, Riyadh, to demand an end to the ban on women driving. They were detained and interrogated by the police for eleven hours, then they, their fathers and husbands were forced to sign pledges not to repeat their actions, and to accept the subsequent punishment if they did, before they could be released. Those women included university professors, journalists, writers, and public sector employees. They were all fired from their jobs and their passports were confiscated and returned to them nine months later. Among them were: Dr. Fawziyya al-Bakr, Dr. ‘Ayesha al-Mani‘, Dr. Aziza al-Mani‘, Dr. Mowadda, Dr. Su‘ad al-Mani‘, and Dr. Nihal al-Ahmad. On November 14, Reuter news wire service stated that police were called to King Saud University in Riyadh to quell a fighting that broke out between [Wahhabi] Islamic fundamentalists and teachers who supported the demonstrating women. Women, hence, have to be chauffeured to school or work, or even to hospitals or clinics for treatment. If the chauffeured female happens to be young, she is always subject to being molested or even raped, and such incidents are rarely reported for fear of tarnishing the girl’s reputation and that of her family. Public transportation is rarely available throughout the kingdom, and when it is, it quite often is unsafe. This situation forces many women to dread the thought of having to leave home. A woman in Saudi Arabia is liable to die for lack of finding a male escort to a nearby clinic or hospital during an emergency. And she can be jailed for speaking to a male foreigner in public.

Working Saudi women are not luckier than those staying at home. The fields in which they can work are very limited. Saudi officials, who are notoriously male chauvinistic, are reportedly deliberately assigning work opportunities in the educational and health-related fields in areas located hundreds of miles away from the homes of these women. A woman may have to travel four hours, each way, to get to and come back from her place of work, in effect spending one third of the entire day commuting. A woman who graduates from a college in Saudi Arabia may have to wait for as long as four years before finding a job, and women are often under-employed, that is, they are often assigned jobs which are below their qualifications or those having nothing to do with their fields.

In 1992, when King Fahd announced the establishment of Majlis al-Shura, not even one article in that announcement referred to women despite the fact that they make up 52% of the Saudi society. Till now, women are not issued identification cards like the ones issued for men.

Women are excluded from all jobs other than careers in the teaching, nursing, and some media-related positions such as writing for columns in newspapers or magazines, or working as radio or television announcers. They do not occupy any position in the Saudi government; there are no cabinet ministers, directors, or the like, in any ministry. There are no newspapers nor magazines published or edited by Saudi women.

There is discrimination even when it comes to teaching. The Ministry of Education, for example, is divided into two sections: one for the males and one for the females. Taught curriculum is forced on everyone, and it promotes only the sect to which the ruling dynasty of Al Saud adheres, that is, the Wahhabi “sect,” despite the fact that in Saudi Arabia there are adherents of other sects such as the Shafi’is (who are in the majority), Hanbalis, Malikis, who are all Sunnis, and the Isma’ili and Ithna-Asheri Shi`as. They are all regarded by the Wahhabis as kafir, apostate, and government-appointed supreme religious authorities have gone as far as issuing a fatwa saying that killing the Shi`as is halal, Islamically permissible… In one of the curriculum text-books introduced last year for second year high school (11th grade) students, a complete part deals with the Shi`as and labels them as kafir. Male students refused to attend the classes where such text-books were taught, forcing the Ministry of Education to alter the said text-books, but female Shi`a students are too powerless to force its omission. They are still being taught to them. Shi`as in Saudi Arabia are labelled as “Rafidis” (rejectionists) or, as they are called in Medina, as “Nakhlis,” those who tend to date trees. Both are applied as demeaning slurs.

Shi‘as in Saudi Arabia receive the worst treatment, be they students, officials of the government, or ordinary jobless housewives. In 1992, a 14-year old evening class student named Tamadur Al Hmood, who was living in the Ummul-Hamam district of the Eastern Province, was forced by the headmistress of her school to change her Shi‘a beliefs and embrace the Wahhabi “sect” in order to impress Saudi authorities. She was then forced, despite her young age, to marry a Wahhabi man chosen for her by the same headmistress and without the consent of her wali al amr. The whole “deal” was cooked in cooperation with the office of the province’s emir. On various university campuses, Wahhabis (who are also called Salafis) enjoy the full freedom to propagate their religious beliefs through the circulation of printed material, video or audio tapes while adherents of other sects are strictly prohibited from doing the same. Non-Wahhabis are periodically searched with or without their knowledge, and such searching is conducted at all school levels up to the university. At Dammam’s Girls College, students’bags are periodically searched by the College’s administration for any clues indicative of one’s non-Wahhabi religious beliefs.

And there is discrimination in the health-care field as well. Saudi nurses are always prone to sexual harassment at the hands of male nurses, co-workers, or administrative staff, and to report such harassment is a license to be expelled or transferred to another place hundreds of miles away, in addition to facing the public with an everlasting stigma.

Social restrictions on Saudi women have confined the latter to their homes, enforced a specific rigid and cumbersome form of hijab on them dictated more by the society than by the creed, limiting their sphere of movement. Government-paid religious authorities in Saudi Arabia are the main culprits in as far as the violations of women’s rights are concerned. They not only refuse to denounce them, they actually condone and justify them.

Most Saudis are critics of the present autocratic authority of the Al Saud clan. Most critical are Saudi women whose opinions are not sought in any matter related to the running of their country’s government. In both secular and religious opposition to the present government, women have taken an active part as proven by the imprisonment of a large number of dissident Saudi women. There are no women’s prisons in Saudi Arabia, but there are wings accommodating female prisoners, and those wings are manned and managed by women. There is no separation in prison accommodation between women accused of being involved in drug trafficking or prostitution and those suspected of dissent; all are lodged together, and all receive the same harsh treatment. Cases of beating, taunting, insulting, torturing, and even raping female prisoners have already been reported by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International in its 1990 report titled: “Saudi Arabia: Detention Without Trial of Suspected Political Opponents” and Middle East Watch. One prisoner, Makkiyya Hamdan, was imprisoned in 1986 with her six-month old daughter Tuqa and charged with being a critic of the regime. Her daughter was kept with her in prison during the whole time (about nine months), and she suffered skin diseases because of the prison environment. Another case is that of Aliya Makki who was arrested in the same year and charged likewise. She wrote Memoirs of a Woman Inside Saudi Prisons to detail her ordeal. In 1982, Dr. Fawziyya al-Bakr, a writer and a sociology professor at Riyadh University, was imprisoned after being accused of dissenting. She was a native of Riyadh who used to write for the Al Jazeera newspaper. She was arrested again in 1990 for participating in the demonstration against the banning of women from driving their cars. Forty year old Zahra al-Nasir was arrested and imprisoned in 1989. After spending four days in jail, she died, and the news of her death surfaced only last January when Arabia Monitor, a publication of the Washington-based International Committee for Human Rights in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula (ICHR-GAP), announced her death in Vol. 2, No. 1. Her “crime” was: possession of a book of prayers (supplications) and a photo of the late Imam Khomeini. Her death, according to concerned human rights organizations that reported the incident, had resulted from torture. This incident is also documented in the report titled “Article 19, Silent Kingdom: Freedom of Expression in Saudi Arabia” edited by Carmel Bedford and published in October 1991 (ISBN 1-870798-56-2). One of the best sources dealing with the subject of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia is a book published by the Minnesota Lawyers’ International Human Rights Committee (telephone 612/341-3302) which contains an extensive bibliography of relevant references.

There have been numerous other cases of women arrested and mistreated, and only a few cases became public. In 1985, Fatima Kamil Ahmed Yousuf, the renown Saudi poetess known as “Neda Yousuf,” was arrested and tortured, and as a result she became paralyzed. Khayriyya Abdel-Hadi Abu Khamseen, a 28-year housewife, and Safiyya Abdel-Hadi Abu Khamseen, 26, were both arrested and detained for three days in al-Ahsa. Even students of theological studies are subject to arrest despite the fact that the only religion taught in Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism: Ibtihaj Hussain Abu Khamseen, 21, was jailed for three months. A 22-year old student named Salwa Abul-Sa`ood was jailed in al-Qateef in 1980 for three months. Muna Salat, a 23-year old housewife, was arrested and imprisoned in al-Qateef for two months. Saudi women jailed during the period from 1969-1987 include: Iftikhar Abdullah al-Damin, Ibtisam Mansoor al-Jarrash, Fatima Mansoor al-Jarrash, Maryam Muhammad al-Yousuf (who was arrested in Bahrain then deported to Saudi Arabia to spend seven months in jail after being accused of belonging to an outlawed religious organization), Muneera Saud al-Eisa, Nooriyya Saud al-Eisa, Najma al-Ghamidi, Khadra Abdullah al-Dawood, Muna Muhammad al-Yousuf, Badriyya al-Zamil, Haya al-Abboodi, Lateefa al-Sooyan, Hooriyya Sayyid Saud, Muntaha Sa`eed Taqi al-Yousuf, Huda al-Zari, Sadeeqa al-Mustawi, Raja Sa`eed Taqi al-Yousuf (a student of the American University), Bushra Habib Muhammad al-Yousuf, Aqeela Hassan al-Shaikh, Raban al-Miskeen, Fawziyya Hassan al-Aseef, Samiya Hassan al-Aseef, Aliya Makki Farid, Makkiyya Abdullah Hamdan, Azhar Ahmed Marhoon al-Ma, Kubra Muhammad Shlati, Huda al-Bazroon, Fakhriyya Ahmed Abdel-Rahman al-Nasir, and Fawziyya Hussain Ibrahim, to name only a few. All of these women were accused of dissent, and there is no room here to include all the names of others.

Politically active Saudi women, especially those belonging to non-Wahhabi sects, are on the top of the list of those persecuted in Saudi Arabia. They and their families are subjected to numerous measures aimed at humiliating, insulting, and entrusting them to slow death. All types of physical and psychological forms of torture are meted to these women and to their families as well. Such women are kept in solitary confinement, male guards conspire with female guards to have access to them and to rape them. As an additional form of psychological torture, their privacy may be invaded in the middle of the night by a raid from a group of male prison guards. Their passports, as well as those of their family members, are confiscated, and their telephones are tapped. They start receiving obscene calls. The current procedure followed by prison authorities is that no woman can be released from prison before signing a statement promising not to talk about what she endured at prison. Female prisoners are not eligible to get their passports back except seven years after the date of their release.

Saudi women have for years been active abroad, wherever there is freedom of expression, struggling to expose the inhumane treatment meted to their country women at home. Among the organizations in which they have been active are: Hizb al Amal al Ishtiraki fil Jazeerah al Arabiyya (the Socialist Action Party in the Arabian Peninsula) and Al Harakah al Islahiyya al Risaliyya (the Reformist Delegated Movement). These organizations have sympathizers and supporters at home. Because of such involvement, many Saudi women dread the thought of going back home. Last February, a young Saudi woman, whose name was withheld for fear of government reprisal against her family at home, and who claimed that her basic human rights were threatened in Saudi Arabia merely because of her gender, sought and was granted political asylum in Montreal, Canada. She had remained in hiding there for 21 months.

Religious institutions and places of worship frequented by non-Wahhabis have always been subjected to closure. The Eastern Province’s Husainiyyat al-Zahra, for example, was closed down in 1982, and it was reopened only about two years ago. It is one of few women-organized and managed religious places for Saudi Shi‘as. Women meet there to conduct religious services, celebrations or commemorations.

Even inside their own homes, women are not safe from the batons carried by Saudi religious authorities who frequently break into homes in the pretext of investigating alleged reports of social gatherings in which males and females mix. And it does not make any difference to these authorities whether those gathered are relatives. Baton or stick equipped religious authorities have a free hand to arrest and/or beat anyone for mere suspicion.

I happened to befriend a young Saudi security officer who was a close friend of one of the students I tutored during my two-year stay in Saudi Arabia. He told me that he and his fellow officers had more fun than anyone else. “How so?” I asked him. He said, “If any of us [other security officers or informers] wanted to have sex, all he has to do is to go to the house or apartment of a non-Saudi teacher and tell her that he can have her deported the next day unless she agrees to go to bed with him.” Most of the women they harassed, he said, were Palestinian teachers who had no country to return to.

What do religious authorities do about all of these human rights violations? Is there anyone among Saudi clergy who has the courage or the conscience to stand up and demand equality in the treatment of women, especially since Islam is the religion of equality and justice? Since the Al Saud clan took control of the reins of government in that part of the world, not even one single individual among the religious establishment stood up to defend women and their basic human rights. Saudis in exile, including those with religious training, have, nevertheless been the only exception to the rule. Shaikh Hassan al-Saffar, a theology scholar, was able to write and publish his book Al Mar’a wal Thawrah (Woman and Revolution) only after leaving his home country.

Someone has said that the analogy of Islam and Muslims is like the pearl and the oyster: the first is shiny and precious, whereas the other is slimy and ugly. How true, especially in the case of Saudi Arabia and its form of religious dogma!

The Article was written by Yasin T. al-Jibouri. Yasin T. al-Jibouri is the Writer, Published Author of 82 Books and of numerous essays, articles and researches, editor including translations of the Holy Qur’an, Translator of Many Books, Simultaneous Interpreter and publisher. He Earned his graduate degree in English from (then) Atlanta University ‎‎(now Clark Atlanta University), Atlanta, Georgia, on December 20, 1978.

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