Saudi Arabia: American Bedu’s Quiet Secret

Dear readers and friends of Carol, here you find Carol’s last article, which she had scheduled a long time in the future. This article illustrates Carol’s great capacity for love and forgiveness.

We miss you Carol.

After careful thought and deliberation I have decided to come out with something I have danced around and never discussed outright.  Why?  Because of my own inner conflicts on the issue.  However, I realize that to be fair to the memory of the man with whom I shared the best times of my life and to his family and heritage, I should speak out.  This may not put me in the most favored of light but as the saying goes, it is what it is. It is part of who I am and my life I had shared with my late husband, Abdullah.

When I first met Abdullah back in the late 1990’s I was under the belief he was separated and in the process of divorce.  After all, we met in Pakistan, he was there alone and if asked, he did not acknowledge that he was married.  Truthfully I also made it very difficult for him to be candid as I was brash and vocal on my views on men who had more than wife.  Besides, at that time, I never imagined we’d have a life or future together.  Yet as time went on and I got to know this kind, caring and compassionate man, I gave him my heart with no holds barred.

Time passed and we discussed marriage.  He chose to be less than direct on the topic of marriage other than he had children with a good woman and whom he respected highly.  The implication was that a divorce had taken place but he would do whatever he could for his children and their mother.  I admired his integrity and loyalty.

It was not until we had been married for more than three years that I learned he had never divorced his first wife.  From a western and emotional perspective I felt abandoned and betrayed.  Yet at the same time, Abdullah was always true to his words and actions.  He never made me feel incomplete or less than loved or his only love for that matter.  He had a relationship similar to many around the world of couples who were divorced and had children in common.  He never spoke against the fine woman who was his first wife.  It was my own insecurities that would make this subject an issue.  Yes; like a whining banshee I would feel some periods of self pity and fear.  Oh how silly I was.

As more time passed I like to say that my eyes opened wider and wiser.  I became aware of intimate family details and especially so how a Saudi woman can lose so much of herself and her own opportunities if there is perceived abandonment or divorce.  Abdullah, showcasing his honor, would never place a woman in such a position.  He wanted her to always have the protection of his name, integrity and family.  She raised his children and raised them so well.

She and I never met, never talked.  There was no need.  Over time I came to realize there was no need for me to feel threatened or insecure.  If anything, one could say I was in the stronger position since I was the one recognized and known as Abdullah’s wife to whom he openly gave his heart and was willing to sacrifice his position in order to merge a life together.

I only have all the more admiration for Abdullah.  He was a man caught in tradition and heritage.  Like me, he never dreamed he’d also find that ‘once in a lifetime love.’  He did not want to lose me and chose to hold back from me until I asked him point blank directly about his marital status.  Even when I did confront him all those years ago, I still see the fear and concern which etched over his face.  He was ready for me to let him go because of my strong abhorrence against the concept of multiple wives in Islam.  But all it took was for me to see his face, his fear, his love and yes, his fear to hope.  I knew… I could not let this man go.  We would move forward and move forward even stronger.  We would learn to dissolve the time which had been lost by my own fears and insecurities.

Don’t say it can’t happen to you.  It can.  It does.  It happened to me.  Don’t be quick to judge or point fingers either.  Don’t blame him.  Don’t blame me.  Don’t blame her.  We all may find ourselves in circumstances beyond which imagined.

My late husband taught me an invaluable life lesson on compassion, honor, integrity and how to accept compromises for less hurt, great gain and immeasurable love.

Saudi Arabia/USA: What Should a Saudi Student Do if Arrested or Questioned by Authorities?

19 April

arrested saudi

 theglobalexperts.org

 

 

There are thousands of Saudi students studying across the United States.  After the tragic events at Monday’s marathon in Boston, it’s not a bad time to step back and review what a Saudi student should or should not do if questioned or arrested by US authorities.

Saudi students, like American citizens, are expected to obey the laws of the United States.  If a Saudi student is questioned or arrested by authorities, he or she must continue to obey the rules.  However, that does not mean a Saudi national does not have rights or choices.

The laws may vary from state to state so I would encourage university Saudi Clubs across the United States to find out the laws specific to the state in which one is located and make those laws available to all incoming students.

The web site, usa.gov, provides laws and regulations for each state.  It is a good reference point for anyone unfamiliar with US laws to start research.   The Ohio Bar also has an excellent article on its site pertaining to YOUR rights if stopped, questioned or arrested by the police. The US legal system is very different from Saudi’s sharia’a based legal system.

The American Civil Liberties Union has extensive information and advice as well if one is arrested, stopped or questioned by police, immigration or the FBI.  The following information is taken directly from the ACLU website and is useful information for a Saudi student:

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STOPPED BY POLICE, IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR THE FBI(Download»)

YOUR RIGHTS
– You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
– You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
– If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
– You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
– Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
– Do stay calm and be polite.
– Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
– Do not lie or give false documents.
– Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
– Do remember the details of the encounter.
– Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

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If You Are

…Stopped For Questioning

…Stopped In Your Car

…Questioned About Your Immigration Status

…Approached By Police Or Immigration Agents at Home

…Contacted By The FBI

…Arrested

…Taken Into Immigration (Or “ICE”) Custody

If You Feel Your Rights Have Been Violated

IF YOU ARE STOPPED FOR QUESTIONING
Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.

IF YOU ARE STOPPED IN YOUR CAR
Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel.
Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
If an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.

IF YOU ARE QUESTIONED ABOUT YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS
You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)
If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.
Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

IF THE POLICE OR IMMIGRATION AGENTS COME TO YOUR HOME
If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants.
Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. A warrant of removal/deportation (ICE warrant) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.

IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY THE FBI
If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.
If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview,have a lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic.

IF YOU ARE ARRESTED
Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Don’t say anything, sign anything or make any decisions without a lawyer.
You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.
Special considerations for non-citizens:
– Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status.
– Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
– While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.
– Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.

IF YOU ARE TAKEN INTO IMMIGRATION (OR “ICE”) CUSTODY
You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services.
You have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your arrest.
Tell the ICE agent you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
Do not sign anything, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal, without talking to a lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the U.S.
Remember your immigration number (“A” number) and give it to your family. It will help family members locate you.
Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.

IF YOU FEEL YOUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street.Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint.
Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first).
File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.

Saudi Arabia: Hippocratic Oath – Ethical or Compassionate

hippocratic oath

americanrtl.org

 

The decision of a Saudi judge to order the surgical paralysis of a 24 year old Saudi man as retribution for an incident that occurred ten years ago has made global headlines.  The majority of the World is outraged by the inhumane decision of this judge.

At the same time, there is another case pending in Saudi courts where an accident victim wants to see the guilty party surgically paralyzed rather than accept the six million SAR she had been offered as retribution.  However, the Jeddah judge who heard this case deferred on a ruling and instead urged the woman to accept the “blood money.”

Not only do these two incidents raise questions on the authority and boundaries of Saudi judges but the issue goes beyond what is viewed as just in the case of an “eye for an eye.”

While one judge made a ruling which basically sanctioned the surgical paralysis of a human being, doesn’t such a directive contradict the international Hippocratic Oath taken by all physicians?

“The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals swearing to practice medicine ethically and honestly.  It requires a new physician to swear upon a number of healing gods that he will uphold a number of professional ethical standards.”

How could a doctor who has taken the oath to preserve life willingly agree to surgical paralyze an individual?

This also brings up questions about other practices which continue to take place in Saudi Arabia.  A thief may have his right hand removed.  Other charges may result in amputation of both a hand and a foot.  In cases of murder, narcotics, heinous crimes and even proselytizing, the penalty can be death by beheading.  In all of these cases, a physician is involved.  When the accused is expected to survive the punishment, such as an amputation, a physician will administer anesthesia and drugs to prevent infection.  In the case of an execution, the accused is administered drugs to not only dull the pain or reality of what is happening but to make the accused more docile when the act of beheading is carried out.

In such cases, would the physicians role be categorized as ethical or compassionate?

Saudi Arabia: Surgical Paralysis – It’s All Up to the Judges

surgical paralysis

usnews.com

 

A Saudi judge has sentenced a 24 year old Saudi man to surgical paralysis if he can’t raise US$270,000 towards blood money for the aggrieved family.  This ruling stems back to an incident which occurred ten years old when Ali Al-Khawahir, who was only 14 years old at the time, had an altercation with a childhood friend.  Al-Khawahir, in his anger and rage, stabbed the friend in the back with a knife which resulted in the friend being paralyzed from the waist down.

At the time of the crime, the friend and his family demanded 1,000,000 SAR in blood money as retribution.  Al-Khawahir’s family had no access to such a vast amount and Al-Khawahir was imprisoned instead.

It is not clear why the ruling to now inflict surgical paralysis has been raised in this current date and time.  Al-Khawahir has already spent ten of his most formulative years of his life in prison.

The fact that a Saudi court has ruled in favor of surgical paralysis on Al-Khawahir for an incident which occurred ten years ago now makes one wonder about what the future will hold for another young Saudi man.  A Saudi woman refused retribution of six million SAR when she became paralyzed in an accident which was found to be the fault of the young Saudi man.  Instead, she requested that the man who paralyzed her in turn be surgically paralyzed.  However, the ruling judge in Jeddah requested the woman reconsider and deferred on making a verdict.

It is the opinion of American Bedu that neither individually will be surgically paralyzed.  In the case of Al-Khawahir since a sum of money is involved, it is highly likely a benefactor will come forward and pay the amount on his family’s behalf.

However, both of these cases due question the legitimacy, boundaries and authorities of Saudi judges.  One judge made it obvious he was against such a demand and another judge ruled that it was “okay.”  While the Quran may cite “an eye for an eye,” the true practice of Islam is to be kind and forgiving.

Saudi Arabia/USA: On Hugs and Kisses

universal greetings

waggeneredstrom.com

I never noticed until being immune-suppressed how “touchy” a culture we have in America!  While we do respect personal space, think about what happens when a typical American meets someone new or is just greeting someone they know.  They shake hands, they hug, they kiss …. And they pat each other’s back!  Because I am immune-suppressed due to my cancer (I have a very low immune system which makes me extra susceptible to catching a cold or a virus) I am prohibited from the traditional contact.  When I go out to a public place I have to wear a face mask and sometimes gloves.  Ironically this still does not keep Americans away from wanting to hug and pat the back!

Whereas in Saudi Arabia, even when one is not battling an illness, there can remain a reserve and a no-man’s land or red line that is not crossed.  Men will shake hands with other men but probably not with other women.  Women will air kiss and then sometimes shake hands with other women.  There is not as much hugging as a greeting among either friends or strangers.

Why exactly do Americans like to hug and pat the backs of strangers?  If you don’t want that to happen to you, you don’t have to resort to wearing a mask or gloves, simply cross your arms over your chest when greeting someone.  This is a universal sign of greeting but without touch!

Saudi Arabia: The Other Side of Travel

returning home

travmonkey.com

 

 

Whether an expatriate or a Saudi, travel outside of the Kingdom is a fun and exciting affair.  It’s pretty common for most expatriates and Saudis to travel out of the Kingdom for one to three months during the height of the heat when school is out.  It’s a welcome break away for everyone!

However, at some point it is time to return and that is when one must be prepared for some surprises or what I like to refer to as ‘the other side of travel.’

Don’t be surprised if you return after an absence of sixty days or more to find that your internet account  has been disconnected or even to discover that your bank account or credit cards have been frozen.  For some reason, this is a fairly common happening in the Kingdom after an absence.

Utilities and internet can get easily turned back on after a few phone calls and perhaps having to pay a personal visit to the place of business.  If ones bank accounts were frozen then that will certainly require a visit to the bank.  Don’t forget to take all your important documentation (iqama, passport, ID card, etc.) with you when going.   Talking to the bank prior to departure is no guarantee that your accounts would remain untouched.

In addition, it is ideal to have someone come in and clean your house thoroughly prior to your return due to the accumulation of dust.  If that is not possible, you’ll want someone available as soon as possible after your return.

Most expatriates or Saudis do not take their housemaid with them when traveling for an extended period.  In many cases, the housemaid will stay with another family until the sponsoring family returns.

Saudi Arabia: The Stigma of Rape

survivor of rape

krishannah.wordpress.com

 

 

When we think about rape, regardless of country, usually the first thought is for the woman and what she has been through.  She has been violated in the most intimate way against her will.  Yet, strong women do move on and survive.

But what about the child who is a result of a rape?  How is that innocent child viewed?  Sadly, in Saudi Arabia, it seems there is more stigma placed on the child of a rape victim than perhaps the insidious deed of rape itself.

As this Saudi gazette editorial illustrates, the mother who gave birth to the child moved on with her life abandoning her child.  The father (or should I say rapist) faced no consequences and continues to live a free and normal life.

Yet the innocent victim in this case who is now a young woman, is the one who has been abandoned and shunned because of the circumstances which surround her birth.  I think the term the author uses to describe her as the “walking dead” is quite apt.  She is shunned by her husband and alienated in the country of her birth which also happens to be viewed by many as the heart of Islam which is ever tolerant and kind.

This unnamed and faceless woman is a real hero.  She may not be aware of it or agree.  However, given the obstacles she has already overcome, starting with her entry into this world, tells me she is a fighter and a survivor.

Rather than continue to pay for the mistakes of others, I pray that this woman will be recognized and shown the love and kindness she deserves as a woman who was brought into the Kingdom under the harshest of circumstances.

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