Monday, June 29, 2009

CDHR presents:

CDHR is pleased to invite you to attend and participate in an informative and thought-provoking conference:

How Empowering Saudi Women Can Undermine Islamist Extremism

This unique conference will be held on Wednesday July 29, from 10 AM to 2 PM on Capitol Hill, Room HVC 201 A & B in the Capitol Visitors Center, a short walk from Capital South Metro Station, Blue and Orange line.

Saudi Arabia is a country “Without Borders”. Because of its centrality to Islam, Saudi Arabia plays a major role in the lives, attitudes and perceptions of an estimated 1.5 billion Arabs and Muslims, especially the most vulnerable and poverty stricken who look to the autocratic ruling Saudi dynasty and its pre-modern institutions for religious guidance.

But more urgent and relevant to the world’s current economic stability and survivability, Saudi Arabia sits atop the world’s largest known oil reserves and has the capacity to produce and ship it to all regions of the world. The combination of grave religious and economic power in the hands of one of the world’s last absolute but shaky governments can cause domestic, regional and global havoc. Given these obtrusive realities, the international community has no choice but to be ominously concerned about Saudi Arabia’s security and stability which have been, until now, maintained by the sword internally and by US military might externally.

However, recent events and the unprecedented politicization of radical Islam in the Middle East have exposed the dangers and ineffectiveness of relying on brute methods and religious totalitarianism to maintain stability and ensure global peace. Luckily, there is a safe, readily available and attainable option: Empower the Saudi people, especially women, to secure and stabilize their country, which is in the best interest of all citizens, the Middle East and the international community. This can be done only if the large and ideologically divided autocratic Saudi ruling princes accept the fact that the country is not their private property, “Saudi” Arabia, and be made aware by the international community, especially the US, that not to move forward is not an option because of the country’s religious and economic importance to global peace and economic stability.

Having had been deeply involved in the Saudi Kingdom’s affairs since its inception in 1933, the United States is in a position to play hardball with the ruling Saudi oligarchs. America designed and constructed the Saudi ruling family’s infrastructure, created, armed and trained its armed forces, airlines, security apparatus and even designed its currency. In reality, if it were not for America’s protection of the Saudi monarchy and its vast desert domain, the country and its rulers could have been overrun by one of the dynasty’s staunch and stronger rivals in the region, Iraq or Iran or could have been overthrown by its repressed population. These facts are more salient now than ever and the US is the only country the Saudi princes can rely on to save them and protect their kingdom.

Empowering Saudi women will strengthen Saudi Arabia socially, economically and politically. It will also help protect and promote the United States’ security and interests and is in accordance with America’s revered and deeply held democratic values. Granting Saudi women their full incontrovertible rights is not only morally correct, but it will ultimately tilt the balance in favor of moderation and will help eradicate the root causes of oppression and religious totalitarianism, not only in Saudi Arabia, but throughout Arab and Muslim communities worldwide.

As documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House and even by the US Department of State, Saudi women are among the most oppressed and marginalized citizens in Arab and Muslim countries. In addition to its immoral and crippling political, social, educational and economic consequences on Saudi society, denying Saudi women their natural and human rights because of their gender is imitated in other Muslims countries, especially among poor and traditional groups and their Shariah court systems to justify abuses and marginalization of Muslim women.

As the only NGO in the US focusing totally on Saudi Arabia, CDHR has assembled a group of highly educated and sophisticated human rights activists Muslim women and men, as well as former US government officials to elaborate on the importance of empowering Saudi women.

Please join us on Wednesday July 29th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Capitol Hill in the Capitol Visitors Center Room HVC 201 A&B to investigate this vital topic with us. Seats are limited so please RSVP. To reserve your spot or for further information contact Lauren Baker at or call us at 202.558.5552

The Stoning of Soraya M.

This film, based on a true story, tells the tale of a woman who is unjustly accused of adultery and stoned to death. Her aunt courageously tries to call the world's attention to this hidden act of injustice.

Stoning for adultery is still practiced in many parts of the world. It is incredibly important to go see this film, in order to better understand the horrific effects of Sharia law and to stand up for women like Soraya worldwide.

You can find the theater nearest you by clicking on this link and inputting your zip code. If the film is not showing near you, call your local art theater and ask that it be shown.

The film was a runner-up to Slumdog Millionaire as the Audience Favorite at the Toronto Film Festival, and stars Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) and Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ). Check out the film's website here for the full story.

Has anyone seen it yet? What do you think?

A Female Stand-Up Comic in Saudi Arabia

This article from BBC News describes ‘Noufie,’ a 25-year-old Saudi women who performs as a stand-up comic in the kingdom, despite her gender! She mentions not being able to use her own name for fear of dishonoring her family and facing retribution from the Saudi royal family and religious institutions.

A quote from the article: “I'm also a risk taker. I would love to get in trouble for something I believe in.

I hope one day they will understand in Saudi Arabia, this is not wrong, this is not against the religion or anything. I am just there to make people laugh, what am I doing wrong?”

Saudi Bloggers

Here are some interesting links to blogs written by actual Saudis.

Saudiwoman's Weblog has written about important issues including child brides, the religious police, and the difficulty of finding a job as a Saudi woman. She is a married woman who teaches at a university in Riyadh.

In the Making has posted about sex segregation, the ban on female drivers, and the overall difficulty and humiliation of a female adult living in Riyadh.

KhanSerai talks about sex segregation, Saudis using Twitter, and the need for reform in Saudi Arabia.

A female journalist living in Jeddah writes about the Saudi educational system, Saudi women being denied the right to vote, and analyses politics relating to the Middle East from a female, Arab point of view at Sabria's Out of the Box.

Khaled's Ramblings talks about technology from a Saudi perspective.

A Bangladeshi living in Saudi Arabia writes about the difficulty of daily life in the kingdom and comments on the religious police at LifeInTheDesert.

At The Ramblings of a Saudi Wife, a female Saudi blogger writes about sex segregation, and the problems of a judicial system that allows physical abuse of children and females.

Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere

As Iranian protestors use Twitter to communicate despite brutal government repression, and people around the world check Facebook for updates on the situation in Iran, it’s not surprising to hear that blogs are influencing political culture throughout the Middle East.

A study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University shows that bloggers are also playing a role in the political culture of the Middle East. The study, called “Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent” looked at bloggers from the Middle East to see whether blogging contributes to the Internet’s influence on democracy in the region.

Check out the report and its conclusions here, along with an interesting graphic that maps out bloggers in the Middle East.

The Frightening Effects of Saudi influence in Pakistan

The Saudi political and religious influence on countries worldwide should not be underestimated, as it is a significant menace for international stability and security. President Obama faces a host of urgent global issues; yet the continued US support for the Saudi royal family only works against US interests and allows Saudi Arabia to continue denying basic human rights to the Saudi people.

Saleem H. Ali, a Pakistani who is a professor at the University of Vermont, observes in this article for the Daily Times that the Saudi influence in Pakistan is shoring up the Taliban and feeding religious extremism. Saudi financing of institutions that preach intolerance and hate and the spread of its state-sponsored branch of Islam, Wahhabism, creates insurgencies, religious friction, and turmoil in regions all around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Bosnia, Nigeria, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and even the United States. Americans and the international community should be extremely skeptical about the Obama administration’s willingness to embrace autocratic regimes, including the Saudi royal family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why is Empowering Saudi Women so Important?

CDHR is hosting a conference on July 29th on Capitol Hill about the importance of empowering Saudi women. The people of Saudi Arabia lack basic human rights, women in particular. Saudi women cannot make basic decisions about their lives, but must have the signed approval of male guardians to travel, receive surgery, to study, or to have a job, among many other basic daily activities. Saudi women are not allowed to drive. Saudi Arabia’s severe, exclusionary branch of Islam, Wahhabism, is the foundation for the denial of rights to Saudi women by the influential religious establishment and the Saudi royal family.


Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia’s forceful spread of this ideology abroad fosters extremism and poses a dangerous, growing threat to the security of the United States and the international community.  Additionally, many Americans do not realize that the United States continues to support the Saudi royal family despite its denial of basic human rights. The United States, as a promoter of democracy worldwide, and because of its influence as an international leader, has the moral obligation to cease supporting the Saudi royal family and lead a call for reforms. 


These informative articles outline the importance of empowering Saudi women and give examples of the horrific ways Saudi Arabia denies women basic human rights. 


Perpetual Minors: Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia

A report from Human Rights Watch drawing on more than 100 interviews with Saudi women to document the effects of these discriminatory policies on a woman’s most basic rights.


What Drives the Youth into the Arms of Extremists

An article from Arab News on why extremism continues to thrive in the Middle East.


 Book Sheds Light on Flaws in Education System 

A female Saudi professor describes the Saudi education system as a “locked box” that encourages aspects that foster terrorism.


 A former Jihadist explains in an article for The Washington Post how he realized extremism was not the way of Islam and calls for an Islamic reform. Losing My Jihadism: A Cry for Change

 Mansour al-Nogaidan, author of the above article, explains his personal journey and calls for reform of Islam in an op-ed for The New York Times. Telling the Truth, Facing the Whip

Finally, in The Jihadi Who Kept Asking Why, Elizabeth Rubin examines the background of several ex-Jihadists, including Mansour al-Nogaidan. This in-depth article for The New York Times is very revealing about the causes of extremism and ways to prevent it.

An article from BBC News on the death of 14 Saudi girls who tried to flee a fire in their school. They could not escape because the school gates were locked, as they usually are to ensure strict segregation of the sexes. Schoolgirls Die in Mecca Stampede


 Saudi Police 'Stopped' Fire Rescue The Saudi religious police refused to allow schoolgirls to leave a burning building because the girls were not wearing the required headscarves and abayas. This resulted in the deaths of 15 Saudi schoolgirls.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Banning the Burka

Should France outlaw the burka?

Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, has stirred up controversy by speaking out against the burka, declaring that the symbol of subservience should be banned in France. Sarkozy argued that the burqa, a full-body, concealing garment, imprisons women and prevents them from participating in social life. Sarkozy stated, “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.” In 2004, the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols were banned in state schools in France. There are about five million Muslims living in France. If France decides to ban the burka, this will be a significant precedent for other European countries. 

Should France enact legislation against the burka? Some see the burka as a sign of oppression, disfigurement, and humiliation that is forced upon Muslim women. It originates in Saudi Arabia, from the severe Wahhabi branch of Islam. Should President Obama and the US Congress enact a law to ban the wearing of the headscarf, veil, and burqa in the United States?

 Here is the article from BBC News and another from The National. The BBC News has a link with an explanation of different types of Islamic head scarves, including the hijab, the burka, and the niqab. 

Additionally, James Delingpole in his column for the Telegraph thinks President Obama has a lot to learn from Sarkozy's outspoken rejection of the burka and what it stands for. 

What do you think? 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Save the Date!

Wednesday, July 29th

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR


How empowering Saudi women can undermine Islamist extremism

CDHR invites you to support and attend this very important and thought-provoking conference. Many of you are aware of the marginalization of Saudi women and its destructive impact on Saudi and Muslim societies as well as the international community. Empowering and including Saudi women in their country’s development and decision-making processes will tilt the balance in favor of religious tolerance, social and political balance and the building of a forward-looking society.

The US has had mutual financial and strategic close relations with the Saudi autocratic ruling family for decades. Unfortunately, this relationship has ignored documented gross violations of basic human rights in Saudi Arabia. In addition, a deadly Islamist (Salafi) ideology, Wahhabism, is gaining strength in Saudi Arabia and in most Sunni Muslim countries and communities, especially in South and Central Asia, Europe and now in the US.

Contrary to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s calls for religious tolerance among different faiths, none exist in his kingdom, and Wahhabism is being exported and gaining strength everywhere.

It is our firm belief based on our intimate knowledge of Saudi Arabia, its people, religious sects, ruling family and its institutions, that empowering Saudi women will undermine religious extremism and its byproduct: Terrorism and religious totalitarianism. The American people, regardless of national origins, ethnicity and religious orientation and backgrounds have a stake in supporting the Saudi women to gain their natural and human rights to counter the Saudi deadly religious ideology.

We encourage you to join us for two panel discussions and lunch in the Capitol Visitors Center Room HVC 201 A&B on Wednesday July 29th from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Seats are limited, please RSVP and for futher information contact Lauren Baker at or 202.558.5552

Blog Archive


United States (14) Saudi women (13) Human Rights (12) women's rights (9) Wahhabism (8) Human Rights Watch (5) Saudi Arabia (5) extremism (5) male guardianship (5) religious freedom (5) women drivers (5) Amnesty International (4) Prince Naif (4) Saudi blogger (4) Twitter (4) censorship (4) conference (4) freedom of media (4) judicial system (4) political reform (4) Facebook (3) Fouad Alfarhan (3) Iran (3) King Abdullah (3) President Obama (3) Saudi royal family (3) Sharia law (3) democracy (3) demonstration (3) employment (3) royal family (3) Blogs (2) CDHR (2) Crown Prince Sultan (2) France (2) Freedom House (2) Hezbollah (2) Israel (2) Jeddah (2) Lebanon (2) Minority Rights (2) Syria (2) Terrorism (2) The Washington Post (2) U.S. Congress (2) Wajeha al-Huwaider (2) arrest (2) child brides (2) education (2) freedom of internet (2) freedom of speech (2) headscarf (2) religious police (2) torture (2) Abaya (1) About CDHR (1) Afghanistan (1) Ahmed Subhy Mansour (1) Al-Doumaini (1) Al-Faleh (1) Al-Hamid (1) BBC News (1) Boston Globe (1) Clare Lopez (1) Contact (1) Dan Burton (1) Economic Reform (1) Farzana Hassan (1) Hamas (1) Hariri Family (1) Iraq (1) Islamic Society of Boston (1) Jihadist (1) King Fahd (1) Mansour al-Nogaidan (1) Middle East (1) Ministry of Interior (1) Muqtada Al-Sadr (1) Muslim Brotherhood (1) Olympics (1) Pakistan (1) President Bush (1) Prime Minister Fouad Siniora (1) Prince Abdul Rahman (1) Prince Al-Waleed (1) Prince Talal (1) Riyadh (1) Sarah Leah Whitson (1) Sarkozy (1) Saudi Embassy (1) Shia (1) Sudairi Seven (1) Sue Myrick (1) Sunni (1) Taliban (1) The Stoning of Soraya M. (1) Thomas Farr (1) adultery (1) burka (1) child abuse (1) female comic (1) film (1) foreign workers (1) hijab (1) honor killings (1) khalwa (1) niqab (1) non-Saudis (1) oil (1) political culture (1) sex segregation (1) stoning (1) succession (1) voting (1) youtube (1)