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.  

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