J’lem Post Columnist Caroline Glick received a letter from a woman living in Saudi Arabia, who emphatically believes that Caroline, in her recent column, got it all wrong concerning the status of women in Saudi Arabia. The reason why I’m interested in writing about this incident, is that the girl who wrote the letter –and requested anonymity– said that she lived in the US for 13 years with her family.
I am sorry to say but I was very disappointed with your article. You said things that are not true about my country. For instance, you mentioned that women in Saudi have no choice on who they marry, and that men can marry up to four women and divorce them just in a matter of words.
We do have a choice on who to marry. You do realize we live in the 21st century?! Both my sisters and brother knew their spouses before they were married, and I come from a relatively religiously committed family. My mother and father met through family outings in Saudi Arabia in the 50’s. While it is true that men can marry up to four women, there are still consequences that comes with it.
Well, yes the Saudis do live in the 21st century, but they also happen to live under 7th century religious/political law. But rumor has it that they will soon be allowing their women the right to drive a car, so there might be a crack forming in the misogynist stronghold after all. I do draw attention to the fact that she did not refute Glick’s claim that they have no choice about marriage.
She could only state that her sisters and brother “knew their spouses before they were married“. I assume they didn’t “know their spouses” in the biblical sense of the word, that would have meant a thorough stoning. What she meant to say but couldn’t without admitting Glick was right, was that they were aware of whom they were promised to. Big difference.
First, this is a part of our religion which gives no one the right to mock us about it.
Second, no sheikh (the equivalent to a priest) will allow a man to marry a second or third wife without conducting an interview with him to see what his reasons are. For instance, my uncle recently married a second wife. This second wife was a woman who’s husband died and was in financial debt. My uncle did what he thought was right, after asking for his wife’s blessing. If he had not received this blessing he would not have done it. Nor would he have done it if he had not realized how bad the situation this woman was in.
Did you get that? “No one has the right to mock”, this is coming from a woman who lived in America for 13 years. Of course everyone has a right to mock religion or any other ideology, its called free speech. Defamation of character is entirely another matter. Also, one incident of a lone relative marrying his late brother’s wife in order to ease her financial burdens, hardly makes up for the “one night” marriages of convenience or the status of women as property that polygamy signifies. Since there are a lot of multiple wife marriages in the Islamic world, there must be a lot of “good reasons” given for them, ..right?
You also mention how no other religions can be practiced in Saudi Arabia. I want
to point out this is the land that Islam was introduced in; the land the prophet was born in, the same land that contains Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest sites in Islam. It makes sense not to allow another religion to be practiced in such a sacred place. As far as I know there is no mosque in Vatican City. I respect the fact that it is a sacred place for a religion, and I would expect to receive the same respect from others about my country.
This statement reveals a lot about the mindset of this Muslim woman. Islam is not to be treated as an equal amongst religions, no way, only a supreme elevated position will suffice. She then uses the straw man argument of the Vatican City as proof that Christianity incorporates the same policy.
First of all, non-Christians have free passage within the Vatican City, as opposed to Medina and Mecca, where the “infidel” risks the pain of death (beheading) if he or she ventures into either of the two cities. Let the Saudis first allow non-Muslims into Medina and Mecca, then talk about houses of worship later.
And no, contrary to what people assume, we are allowed to leave the house. Even
without our brothers or fathers. It is a cultural choice whether a mother of father permit their daughters out without male supervision. Perhaps one in 15 families take a stringent position. I go to the beach, restaurants, parks, cafes, bowling…with my friends – males and females. Yes I do wear an abaya, but we do not necessarily have to cover our hair or faces; again this is a personal and cultural choice.
We only have her word for the “1/15 families claim”, more importantly, what kind of
stance does the Saudi government take in regards to a woman traveling in mixed company and without a male relative? And lastly:
To be frank, abayas are not a big deal to us, we actually embrace it and design lovely abayas that portray our personalities. And yes, it was ridiculous for the French government to try and ban women from wearing scarves. Where is the
freedom of choice there? Was this to protect the country from terrorists? Anyway, how did it transpire that head coverings came to be seen as symbols of oppression? I wish the world would stop judging us.
To be frank, YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER. It’s of course
in your best interest to make do with an intolerable situation that you have no control over, whatsoever, but don’t think you can spin that crap here in the west. About scarves, if Islam was void of its political element, the issue of head scarves would be of little relevance, with no one giving it any thought. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. *L* KGS