Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Empowering Saudi Women

Supporting Saudi women's rights to drive and to obtain their full equality in Saudi Arabia is more than a Saudi domestic cause. This is due to the fact that Saudi Arabia plays major economic and religious roles in Muslims' and non-Muslims' lives. For decades, Western democratic governments and businesses have maintained economic and strategic ties with the Saudi autocratic monarchs.

The West sells large quantities of arms to the Saudi monarchs and trains their armed forces and their oppressive security apparatus. Western democracies support the Saudi monarchs and protect them from internal and external threats. These realities contribute to the Saudi regime's religious, social, and political oppression, especially against women and minorities. As free people, we have the right and civic obligation to stand up against oppression, especially in countries whose regimes we support and conduct lucrative business with.

While the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia does not advocate the use of violence to bring about political change; it’s unlikely that the ruling family will ever share real power with their disenfranchised populace peacefully. “The House of Saud will fight until the last drops of blood to keep its powers; it will not give up anything willingly,” said Mohsen Al-Awajy a Saudi lawyer and reformer, (Newsday, October 31, 2004.) However, this outlook could change because of recent developments in Saudi Arabia and in response to the current sweeping uprising against tyranny in many Arab countries

As Americans with close economic and strategic ties to the Saudi regime, it’s in our best interest to support Saudi women’s rights, not only to drive, but to become full participants in the Saudi decision making processes. Societies where women are equal and empowered have proven to be more stable, prosperous and tolerant of differences.

Ali Alyami, Executive Director

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