Locked up in the Potemkin village

Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post has the story of Abdullah’s daughters, but he makes clear that he’s reporting reports as opposed to an investigation. He says there are some doubts as to how confined the daughters are. Maybe they’re only a little bit held against their will.

Abdullah’s reforms, writes one commentator, have “all the substance of a Potemkin village, a flimsy structure to impress foreign opinion.”

Closer to home, moreover, there are a few women related to the late monarch who may object to the praise being heaped upon him. Abdullah, like other Saudi royals, had numerous wives — at least seven, and perhaps as many as 30. He had at least 15 daughters. Four of them, according to news reports, live under house arrest. [Read more…]

Five years old

I’m feeling sick now.

From the International Business Times

A Saudi preacher accused of raping, torturing and killing his five-year-old daughter, has reportedly been released from custody after agreeing to pay “blood money”.

Fayhan al-Ghamdi was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes in 2013.

The court also ordered al-Ghamdi to pay his ex-wife, the girl’s mother, one million riyals ($270,000) in “blood money”.

According to some reports, al-Ghamdi had suspected his daughter had lost her virginity and had tortured her accordingly.

Al-Ghamdi’s daughter Lama suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns. [Read more…]

The daughters of Abdullah

Ok I’d seen a couple of mentions of imprisoned Saudi princesses and hadn’t followed up, but thanks to yazikus posting some extracts in comments I now have. I didn’t realize they were Abdullah’s daughters. His own god damn daughters, imprisoned in some dark rooms on his say-so. It’s a tale of horror.

Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher Al Saud are daughters of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Arabian monarch who is worth an estimated $15 billion.

They grew up rich, and had a nice life. They wanted to study abroad and travel, then marry and have children.

Now they are prisoners.

Not only has the 89-year-old king forbidden any man to seek his daughters’ hands in marriage, he’s confined them, against their will, in separate dark and suffocating quarters at his palace.

The king’s eldest daughter, 42-year-old Sahar, spoke with The Post in a rare and surreptitious phone call.

“We are cut off and isolated and alone,” she says. “We are hostages. No one can come see us, and we can’t go see anyone. Our father is responsible and his sons, our half-brothers, are both culprits in this tragedy.”

Why are the princesses being held captive?

Because they believe women in Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive Islamic nations in the world, should be free. Their mother, Alanoud Al Fayez, long ago fled to London. [Read more…]

Taubira v the internauts

From last week – Christiane Taubira herself gave her view on whether or not Charlie Hebdo is allowed to make fun even of religions.

Lors de la cérémonie d’obsèques de Tignous, l’un des dessinateurs tués dans l’attaque de Charlie Hebdo, Christiane Taubira a évoqué le “droit de se moquer de toutes les religions”.

À la question “peut-on rire de tout ?”, la ministre de la Justice a livré sa réponse aux funérailles de Tignous à Montreuil le 15 janvier 2015. [Read more…]

Purging

Nice work, Wikipedia –

Guardian headline: Wikipedia bans five editors from gender-related articles.

Wikipedia’s arbitration committee, the highest user-run body on the site, has banned five editors from making corrections to articles about feminism, in an attempt to stop a long-running edit war over the entry on the “Gamergate controversy”.

The editors, who were all actively attempting to prevent the article from being rewritten with a pro-Gamergate slant, were sanctioned by “arbcom” in its preliminary decision. While that may change as it is finalised, the body, known as Wikipedia’s supreme court, rarely reverses its decisions.

[Read more…]

Systematic discrimination against women persists

Human Rights Watch sees Saudi Arabia rather differently from the way the people running the governments and sitting on the thrones do.

King Abdullah’s reign brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens to free expression, association, and assembly. Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, should halt persecution of peaceful dissidents and religious minorities, end pervasive discrimination against women, and ensure greater protections for migrant workers.

Over King Abdullah’s nine-and-a-half year rule, reform manifested itself chiefly in greater tolerance for a marginally expanded public role for women, but royal initiatives were largely symbolic and produced extremely modest concrete gains.

And that’s in a place where women are treated like disease-ridden vaginas – alluring and filthy, with no brain and no rights.

Early in his reign, King Abdullah promoted modernization of Saudi Arabia’s state apparatus, making it more efficient and transparent; encouraged a modest public re-evaluation of the enforced subservient status of women and religious minorities; allowed greater debate in the media; and promoted some degree of judicial fairness. After 2011, the authorities subordinated the king’s reform agenda to a campaign to silence peaceful dissidents and activists who called for religious tolerance and greater respect for human rights.

King Salman should take steps to prohibit discrimination against women and religious minorities and institute protections for free speech. A significant first step would be to repeal vague legislation used to prosecute Saudis for peaceful speech and create a written penal code that includes comprehensive human rights protections. He should also order the immediate release of Saudi citizens jailed solely for calling for political reform.

Nonsense. Look at all the tributes to Abdullah pouring in from the heads of state. Obviously there’s no need to improve anything, or they would have mentioned it.

The most concrete gains for women under King Abdullah included opening up new employment sectors for women. In February 2013, King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the Shura Council, a consultative body that produces recommendations for the cabinet.

Systematic discrimination against women persists, however. Authorities have not ended the discriminatory male guardianship system. Under this system, ministerial policies and practices forbid bar women from obtaining a passport, marrying, travelling, or accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian, usually a husband, father, brother, or son. Employers can still require male guardians to approve the hiring of adult female relatives and some hospitals to require male guardian approval for certain medical procedures for women. Women remain forbidden barred from driving in Saudi Arabia, and authorities have arrested women who dared challenge the driving ban. [tweaks mine]

The place is a nightmare for women, and for men who think women are human beings. Abdullah’s death doesn’t change that, not even for a few days.

If that’s bland and reassuring, what would scary look like?

The Guardian also reports that the new Saudi monarch promises continuity with the previous monarch. What a surprise.

Salman’s first public remarks as monarch, even before Abdullah’s burial, were designed to send a bland and reassuring message of stability. “We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech on state TV.

“The Arab and Islamic nations are in dire need of solidarity and cohesion.” He used the phrase “the straight path” – language taken directly from the Qur’an.

[Read more…]

The palace told them to lower the flags

Wtf?

Why would flags in the UK be lowered in tribute to the king of Saudi Torturer Arabia?

Some MPs are wondering.

A decision to mark the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia by flying flags in Whitehall at half-mast has been criticised by MPs.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had asked government buildings to fly the union flag at half-mast for 12 hours in line with protocol that says this is appropriate following the death of a foreign monarch.

Any monarch, all monarchs? No matter what? Even when the country the monarch was monarch of just beat a man with 50 blows of a stick as punishment for having a website that advocated liberal values? Even then? [Read more…]