• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Archived Newsletters Newsletter - February 27, 2009

Newsletter - February 27, 2009

E-mail Print PDF

Saudi News

Commentary by Dr. Ali Alyami

A Determined Saudi Woman

Director’s Comment: In a country where obstacles against women’s rights and progress are institutionalized and monumental, Reem Asaad, a professor at Dar Al-Hekmah Women’s College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, decided to challenge the Saudi labor ministry for failing to implement a Saudi law to employ women in department stores that sell women’s lingerie. As a business professor, Reem understands the importance of money, profits and business reputation. After trying to get the labor ministry to enforce the law, to no avail, she formed a group of supporters to contact and write to major department store owners and ask them to hire women instead of men to sell women’s lingerie to other women, or face boycott by women shoppers.

As expected, when the Saudi government’s religious clerics, who are notoriously known for their adamant opposition to women’s rights, especially driving cars and employment, heard about the campaign and the domestic and international attention the issue generated, they came out roaring against it. The campaigners are not deterred by what they expected in the first place. They are continuing with their campaign despite opposition from the religious establishment and some of their allies in the business community. This is typical of Saudi women, some of whom are among the most resilient people in the world.

The success of this small movement has great potential for far-reaching positive implications for Saudi women and society in general. If it succeeds, it will send messages to men and women and will open doors for Saudi women’s employment, which will reduce their dependence on men for their lives and livelihood. This is an effort that is worthy of everyone’s support.

It is worth noting that gender segregation in Saudi Arabia is institutionalized and severely enforced by the same religious men who object to employing women to sell intimate garments to other women. Ironies are hardly alien to Saudi Arabia. Read Original Article

“Sheikh sees dangers in studies on Saudi women”

Director’s Comment: The Saudi religious community’s disdain for and Saudi men’s general fear of women’s empowerment are not only immoral and unnatural, but damaging to Saudi Arabia’s image, progress in education, the economy, as well as political and religious maturity and advancement. Some analysts and interpreters of Muslim religious books attribute the exclusion (or marginalization) of Saudi women to Islam and its teachings, as stated in the attached article. Others argue that religion is only being used as a tool by the government, which pays the religious police to keep citizens divided and to exonerate the system from meeting its obligations. Read Original Article

Pregnant gang-rape victim sentenced to one year and 100 lashes

Director’s Comment: Institutions that validate such cruelty are not only dangerous to their people and neighbors, but to the basic civil norms of the international community. There must be universal binding measures to protect defenseless victims from incurring further punishment because of their physical makeup, gender. Saudi Arabia is a signatory to international human rights declarations and a member of international organizations such as the UN and the World Trade Organization, whose charters demand equality for all citizens of any given country. The Saudi judicial system should adhere to the universally accepted declarations on human rights, or risk being labeled as an illegal system. There should be no larger priority for the Saudi ruling elites than to transform the Saudi judicial system and staff Saudi courts with male and female judges who recognize, accept and adhere to non-sectarian global declarations and conventions on human rights. Religions and traditions should not be used to abuse citizens because of gender, religious orientation or ethnicity. Read Original Article

Saudi Power is Dwindling

Director’s Comment: Many analysts have been saying for decades that Saudi regional and global power has been exaggerated and hyped up by Western powers to strengthen the Saudi ruling family’s influence among Arabs and Muslims. In return and for their protection from internal and external threats, the Saudis have played major roles in regional politics, not militarily, but economically and religiously. Because of Saudi Arabia’s centrality to Islam, its government’s staunch opposition to Israel, and Communism and its generous gifts to leaders in Arab and Muslim countries, the Saudis have performed rather well among Arabs and Muslims, given their detested methods of ruling and the imposition of their rigid religious and traditional values. Despite the increase in oil revenues, the Saudis have been losing to other players in the region and beyond. Regionally, the Iranians and their proxies such as Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas have reduced the Saudi political and religious influence measurably. In OPEC, Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria and other oil producers have cut into the Saudi dominant role. Even in its own backyard, in the Gulf region, the ruling families of the small but rich Gulf states became less dependent on their “big Brother” and more reliant on the US, especially since the US moved its forces from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the rest of the small Sheikhdoms and Kingdoms. The Saudis feel and know this, thus they have been putting more emphasis on Muslim unity and intensifying the exportation of their austere brand of Islam, Wahhabism. Read Original Article

King Abdullah’s Recent Removal of Some Officials

Director’s Comment: Some hopeful Saudis and many Western commentators and beneficiaries have been recycling the same theme, “King Abdullah is clearing the way for reforming his lagging kingdom.” While the King has taken some steps to relieve his captive population of the yoke of political, religious and social oppression and stagnation, his recent moves are designed to consolidate power under his branch of the royal family’s control and to ensure the incontestability of the House of Saud as the legitimate rulers of Saudi Arabia. The King and some royals (both men and women) have realized that their survival depends upon some political, religious and social relaxation, but they are not prepared to share power or allow for genuine public participation. These are hopeful signs and an opportunity for the Saudi people to demand real changes instead of mere public relations stunts. It is equally important for the US Administration to re-evaluate its relations with and approach towards Saudi Arabia. Transforming Saudi institutions is essential for world peace and economic stability. Read More

Join Us:

The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization based in Washington, DC. CDHR provides new and accurate information for the benefit of the public, the business community and policy makers about the current situation in Saudi Arabia. CDHR’s goal is to help bring about a peaceful democratic transition from a single-family autocratic rule to a participatory political system where the rights of all Saudi citizens are protected under the rule of civil laws.

The Center could not undertake this important task without the active support of visionary individuals and foundations. CDHR needs the support of people who understand the importance of building a united, prosperous and tolerant society in Saudi Arabia where people are empowered to determine their destiny and the fate of their important, but unstable country. Please visit our website (www.cdhr.info) to learn about our work and see what you might do to support the many Saudi men and women who risk their livelihood and lives to promote a just political system that rejects all forms of incitement, religious hatred and oppression at home and abroad.

Your financial investment in democracy building in Saudi Arabia will benefit the Saudi people, the Middle East, the Muslim world, and the international community. Your contribution will make a difference and is greatly appreciated.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about our mission and what you can do to promote a non-sectarian, accountable and transparent political system in Saudi Arabia where all citizens are treated equally under the rule of civil laws.

Contact Us:

The Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
1050 17th Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

Phone: (202) 558–5552, (202) 413–0084

Fax: (202) 536–5210

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.cdhr.info

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites

Donate to CDHR

Subscribe to Newsletter