To veil or to die, that’s the question


Yesterday a student at the women only campus of a Riyad university collapsed and died of a heart attack. Allegedly the male paramedics had to wait for an hour before they were admitted due to ”modesty concerns”

The student, now identified as Amna Bawazir was known to suffer from heart problems.

Okaz newspaper said administrators at the King Saud University impeded efforts by the paramedics to save the student’s life because of rules banning men from being onsite. According to the paper, the incident took place on Wednesday and the university staff took an hour before allowing the paramedics in.

king saud university

However, the university’s rector, Badran al-Omar, denied the report, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He said the university did all it could to save the life of Amna.

Professors at King Saud University are demanding an investigation. “We need management who can make quick decisions without thinking of what the family will say or what culture will say,” said Professor Aziza Youssef.
One staff member, who witnessed the situation, said paramedics were not called immediately. She said they were also not given immediate permission to enter the campus and that it appeared that the female dean of the university and the female dean of the college of social studies panicked. The staff member spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from university management.

Al-Omar said the staff called campus health officials within minutes of Amna Bawazeer collapsing and that about 25 minutes later they called paramedics.

The students insisted that the officials who refused to allow the medical team into the college on the pretext they were men should be held accountable for the incident.
”Islam is a religion that facilitates practices, and the religious rule, in exceptional situations, are relaxed,” some of the students told the daily. “We do not see any necessity that is more pressing than rescuing the life of a human being from imminent death.”

Amna Bawazir’s death sparked a debate on Twitter by Saudis who created a hashtag to talk about the incident.  Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online. In the debate, many Saudis said the kingdom’s strictly enforced rules governing the segregation of the sexes were to blame for the delay in helping Amna Bawazeer.

In 2002, a fire broke out at a girl’s school in Mecca, killing at least 15
girls. The religious police would not allow the girls to escape, actually chased them back into the burning school, because they were not wearing headscarves or abayas.

Petition: Save my life, then my Modesty
Read more:

Al Arabiya

ABC news

Gulf News

Suspension of text messages when women leave Saudi Arabia

The automatic text message service where a text message is send to a man to inform him that one of his ”dependants” is leaving the country is being suspended for the time being. Pending adjustment. So it’s not going away, but adjusted. Maybe they will be going back to men having to sign up for this service instead of all men being warned automatically.

saudi woman

In Saudi Arabia women and children are considered dependants. So if a woman or children, or household personnel, is at the airport in order to leave the country, the husband/father/employer gets a text message that ”dependants are leaving the country”. Now any man would be aware anyway that his ”dependants” are leaving the country because women and children also need a ”yellow paper”, a form signed by the husband/father/son/grandson/any related male, confirming that he allows them to leave the country.

Sometimes the form is not enough, especially if it is a Western woman with children, and the man has to go to the airport to give his consent personally on the spot. Even a very old woman needs male permission, if necessary from a young grandson.

So now the text service, which was made an automatic one in 2012, is suspended. “The system has been suspended due to some observations and it will undergo amendment,” said Lt. Col. Ahmad Al-Laheedan, spokesperson of the Passports Department in comments published on Monday. He indicated that the system could be reintroduced, adding new options.

Many women rejoice of course. And there are a lot of Saudi men who do not like the system either. But most interesting is the reactions on twitter, blogs and in the comments on Arab News. Read the comments in the link provided below!

Reactions are very diverse:

  • Sabria S. Jawhar  ”The notification process should have never been introduced in the first place because it is humiliating for women. It is demeaning to women and restricts their freedom.”
  • ”Without such a system, a woman or a child would be free to come and go and travel abroad without her or his family knowing about it. If such is the case, we will find many of our women and children going abroad without our knowledge.
  • Salwa, another blogger, said that since the aim of the notification system is to provide a good service for families, men should also be included to augment the advantages. “I am sure that many problems would be solved if women were aware of their husbands’ cross-border movements as well,” Salwa said. “In fact, women would benefit from the system much more than men. So please include men and alert their wives about their international departures and arrivals,” she said.
  • ”What is the big issue? As a muslim women we shouldnt be travelling without a mahram anyway except for necessity and if your guardian has already given you permission then whats the big deal that he gets a text

What do you think?

read more:

Arab News

Manal Al Sharif on TED

Very unusual for TED talks, Manal Al Sharif gets multiple standing ovations during her beautiful and eloquent TED Talk.

Manal Al Sharif has inspired people, not only in Saudi Arabia, but over the entire world, projecting a positive image of Saudi women, and Saudi people.



Saudi women jailed for helping a Canadian woman

saudi woman jail

Fawzia al-Ayuni and Wajiha al-Huwaider, the well known Saudi women activist, have been sentenced to 10 months in jail and banned from leaving the country for two years.

They have a month to appeal against the judgment.
The two women were convicted of the Islamic sharia law offence of takhbib*, or incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband. They had been briefly detained by police a year and a half ago in the company of the Canadian woman who at the time wanted to flee the kingdom with her children, although they were only taking the woman to go shopping for food because her husband had left her in the apartment without enough provisions.

When they left the apartment the women were taken into custody.

Regional rights group the Gulf Forum for Civil Societies expressed “deep concern” over the jail sentences handed down against two women, who had “defended a humanitarian right”.

Wajeha Al Huwaider

Wajeha Al Huwaider


*) Takhbib:  In Shari`ah, ”takhbib” means to estrange a wife from her husband in order to marry her. The Prophet disowned those committing such a sin saying, “He is not one of us who estranges a wife from her husband or the wife of his slave in order to marry her” (Reported by Abu Dawud).


Saudi Arabian clerics insult new female shoura members


Several prominent Saudi Arabian clerics have taken to insulting the new female Shoura members. The female Shoura members have been chosen amongst the professional women of Saudi Arabia, all highly achieving female academics and technocrats. The 30 women have said to stand as one voice to lift the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.
Two female members of the Shoura Council told the local al-Jazirah daily that they plan to form a united front at the council to push for allowing women to drive. Councilwoman Dr. Salwa al-Hazzaa said; “God willing, we will discuss women driving. Especially as we are 30 female members in the council and we will be one voice.”

The also newly appointed councilwoman Thurayya Al-Urayed told the newspaper that the door is always open for the public to petition the council to look into different issues. “It is likely that there would be other petitions about [women driving] brought to the council.”

King Abdullah’s decision to include women into the Shoura council has made many conservative clerics very angry. A group of conservative clerics staged a protest last month outside the royal court in Riyadh to express their anger.

The clerics tweets against the female councilmembers included derogatory terms as ”The filth of society” and ”Prostitutes”.


Naser al Omar tweeted:

“No wonder. Corrupt beginnings lead to corrupt results. Wait for more Westernization.”
Al-Omar described the women Shoura members enthusiasm to tackle the ban on driving as “suspicious” and accused them of ignoring “major women issues” that are more pressing.


A member of the Islamic Ministry for ”Da’wah, Guidance and Endowments”, Ahmed Al-Abedulqader, expressed his discontent in these subtle words:
“They thought they can mock the mufti by giving these ‘prostitutes’ legitimacy to be in power. I am not an imposter, and imposters do not fool me. For how long will the forts of virtues be torn down?”
Following angry reactions by Twitter users, Ahmed Al-Abedulqader said:
“We have heard and read many insults against (God) as well as mockery against the prophet, prayer be upon him, and none of those defending (these female) members was angered.”

A former teaching assistant at King Saud University, Dr. Saleh al-Sugair, slammed the assignment of female members at the council and tweeted:
“The insolent (women) wearing make-up at the Shuora Council represent the society? God, no. They are the filth of society.”
This wasn’t the first controversial statement by al-Sugair, who is not a cleric but a medical doctor known for extreme religious views. Sugair has over 40 thousand followers on twitter and is known for advocating against women employment, women driving, and women treating male patients.

It is important to also note that although the infamous tweets were re-tweeted and hash-tagged, many Saudis condemned the attacks on the female Shoura members, especially since they came from figures who are supposed to preach tolerance, compassion and respect.

Author Maha al-Shahri tweeted:
“(These statements) are a moral crime. The government has to set laws to (teach) them and their likes (morals).”

Abdelrahman al-Sobeyhi, tweeted:
“Every disease has a medicine to heal it except stupidity.”

Ali Abdelrahman, tweeted:
“This is ignorance that does not belong to Islam.”

Another twitter user tweeted:
“The problem is that they think they have immunity from God!”


Read more:

Al Arabiya

Riyadh Bureau

Saudi Arabia, A woman school bus driver


Saudis first female bus driver is called Saliha. Living in the remote area of Asir, Saliha’s family is poor, and her father had devised an idea to make money by starting a schoolbus to drive the  area’s school girls to school.  As Saliha is a good driver she begged her father to be allowed to be the driver of this bus.

“I live with my parents and four sisters and our conditions are very difficult,” Saliha said. “One day, my father thought about launching a bus service to drive female students in our area to their schools. He discussed the idea with the village men and they all agreed since they trusted my father and they were confident that he would be keen on protecting them. They also thought that driving the bus would be an opportunity for him to make some money,” 

“I looked at his poor health condition and advanced age and I requested him to allow me to replace him, especially that I was a good driver. My father in fact taught me how to drive since I was young. It took some time before he was convinced that I could drive the bus instead of him,” 

Her  father agreed, so Saliha disguised herself as a man and the bus service started off. Aftter some young men noticed one day she had henna on her hands the game was up!

“They assembled around me to try to understand why a ‘man’ would put some henna on and I told them that I was a woman and explained the whole situation. The next day, some elders from the village came to see my father and we were afraid they would reprimand him for what happened. However, we were relieved to learn that they were delighted with the fact that I could drive their daughters to school”, she said.

Saliha said that she reverted to her woman’s clothes and that she was earning SR4,000 a month for her job.

“The fact that there is no traffic police in the area and the absence of major administrative facilities have enabled me to drive freely,” she said.






Read more:

Riyadh connection

Saudi Arabia, Tash Ma Tash, The religious Police

Tash Ma Tash is a famous and funny program in Saudi Arabia. In this (banned) episode they are showing off the religious police, or The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the  Prevention of Vice.
It’s a very good documentary, and somebody has been very nice and added subtitles, so non-Arabic speaking people can enjoy it too.

You will have to click on the link because I can’t make it come up in the page.

It starts with a nice Muttawa in 1960

tashmatash nice muttawa

And then they follow a day in the life of the modern Muttawa!

tashmatash nasty muttawa


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