Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Why is America Still Allied with Saudi Arabia?
by Phyllis Chesler
The Saudi mutawas (“morality police”) are terrifying. Like vultures, they swoop down on their vulnerable prey, especially women, and then send them straight to Hell. The “long beards” curse and beat their female prisoner, totally terrify her; then, they throw her into a dark, medieval dungeon, (assume the worst here). They remove her only in order to gang-rape and torture her—all presumably in the name of Islam. Her crime? In one instance, although the woman was a foreign national, she dared to take a taxi downtown without a male escort Remind me: Why are we still allies with Saudi Arabia? Why did President Obama bow to the King who presides over such Hell? Can we find no oil elsewhere, no other sources of energy? Do Americans really understand what goes on in Saudi Arabia? Have we forgotten that the Saudis have single-handedly exported Wahhabi fundamentalism and propaganda that has poisoned both westerners and those in the east—and have funded western universities and media as well? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia? Or that Osama bin Laden is a Saudi? Do we not understand that the Kingdom has funded bin Laden?
Are we aware, even dimly, of how very barbaric the Saudi rulers are—despite all their suave, smooth, westernized, glitzy exteriors? Do we understand what it means to live in the 8th or 9th centuries?
Prometheus Books is about to publish a book by Sami Alrabaa which is called Veiled Atrocities: True Stories of Oppression in Saudi Arabia. Once I picked it up, I literally could not put it down. Alrabaa is a professor of anthropology and sociology who, for five years, chaired a department of European Languages and Translation at King Saud University.
Mary Laurel Ross has also just published a very good book about Saudi Arabia. Veiled Honor (Father’s Press) is based on Ross’s having lived in the Kingdom for nearly fifteen years as the wife of an American military officer. The book is based on the many letters she sent her mother-in-law, who carefully kept them all. Like Alrabaa, Ross’s book does not whitewash the normalization of atrocities in the Kingdom as so many of the earlier books about Saudi Arabia once did.
I will review both books at a later date. The atrocities are visited upon both men and women, and definitely upon foreign workers and foreign nationals.
However, today, I want to focus on one story only which concerns woman’s inhumanity to woman—which is also the subject and title of my book, which has just been reissued with a new introduction. This story is contained in the opening chapter of Alrabaa’s book.
Al Rabaa tells the story of Karin (presumably a pseudonym), a German woman who took a taxi downtown and got arrested for doing so. Thrown into a dungeon, beaten, raped, traumatized, no one knew where she was. Finally, a married Saudi man (alas, one to whom she was already attracted), moved heaven and earth to rescue her. He got her released after having her German husband deported and after marrying her without Karin even being present. A well connected Saudi man can rescue his wife from prison. Satam moved Karin into the home he shared with his first wife Fatima and their children. Satam soon lost interest in Karin and spent long hours away from home. But Karin was already pregnant. Here’s how Fatima handled the situation.
First, around midnight, while Karin was sleeping, Fatima put on loud Arabic music, came into Karin’s room and “slammed a massive stick down onto my stomach…I screamed for help. ‘No one is going to hear you, Gahba (whore)!’” The first wife kept swinging the stick at her. Karin fled. Finally, Satam got Karin her own apartment. Whereupon, Fatima started calling her to “harass and terrorize me…she spread rumors that I had a boyfriend who secretly came to visit me.” In fact, Fatima enlisted relatives in an elaborate scheme to entrap Karin and to report all such concocted suspicious doings to Satam.
But here is the most evil thing that Fatima did. Because Mimi, their housemaid, was helpful to Karin, Fatima reported Mimi to the mutawa for “fornication.” The fact that this was totally untrue made no difference. Once Mimi was arrested, Prince Salman signed her death warrant. Satam could do nothing to reverse this decree. Thus, the following Friday, after prayers, the appropriate verses from the Qu’ran having been read, Mimi was stoned to death. The two Indian men she was accused of “fornicating” with (shopkeepers, where Mimi was shopping for Karin) each received one hundred lashes.
The graphic description of Mimi’s stoning is too awful for me to repeat.
I am waiting for Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama to spell out precisely what American policy should be vis a vis Saudi Arabia given their barbaric record on human rights and their major role in funding and exporting Islamic Jihad globally.