Saudi Arabia was recently in the news with a most shocking event: The Kingdom, crib of radical Wahabism has been elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Preposterous and outrageous. Those are mild adjectives to qualify the announcement.
“Saudi Arabia was elected to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2018-2022 and the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS 2017-2020,” the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations confirmed on Twitter Friday.
According to the UN, the CSW “is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”
Despite the pompous description, the reality in Saudi Arabia is filled with strict gender codes which prevent women from driving and must obey a dress code requiring them to wear loose robes.
Women are also prevented from interacting with men who they are not related to and must live under the supervision of a male guardian.
Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars.
Last March, the oil-rich country launched a “Girls Council” in support of the welfare of women and girls in Saudi Arabia. No, it’s not a joke.
The March 13 launch was led by Prince Faisal bin Michal bin Saud, and the council is chaired by his wife, Princess Abir bint Salman.
However, the princess wasn’t able to be at the launch because of gender restrictions.
Instead, she, along with the other women on the council were video-conferenced into the event.
The Other Side of Reality
This author has been friends with many Saudi women, colleagues, friends.
Most of them, as myself, professionals in their fields.
Sure they live segregated lives, so I learned how they joke when they go out on only women outings and how they make jokes about men.
I had a Saudi friend whom I met in Dubai at one of my lectures. We agreed to meet in the evening, go to the flea market and then to dinner.
What was not my surprise when I see her with a long flowery skirt and a blouse with a decolleté and a shawl over her shoulders. I was horrified, worried for her. In contrast, I was modestly dressed.
She was a banker working in Europe on her way back home for vacation. She told me her other sisters were professionals as well.
Next day, I had a business meeting at the end of which, a Saudi colleague chatted briefly with me, I shared with him how delighted I was to have made that new friend, from Saudi.
As I was telling him about her, he became increasingly curious until he finally asked me her name.
Thankfully, Arab names are difficult enough to remember, thus I told him that I honestly had forgotten.
On another occasion, as I was in Manama, the capital of Bahrain for some business meetings, while I was having a coffee in the lobby of my hotel a gentleman approached me, introducing himself as a Lebanese diplomat.
He then proceeded to tell me he was going to Saudi and if I felt like going, he could take me with his chauffeured limo. Gently, I said no.
Next one who came to my table was an old friend, a young sheik whom I tell the last episode.
He said, lucky you did not go, women who are taken into Saudi are almost never seen again, they are sold as slaves.
Baruch Hashem. May G-D be Blessed.
At one event where I was addressing women in business in the Muslim world, and after listening to my fellow Western speakers mostly address the topic of women empowerment, in the nick of time, I decided to replace my prepared speech for another topic altogether.
As I showed the audience with only ladies clad in burka, hijabs, and abayas, my speech in the garbage bin, I asked them to lift their cloaks. We were among women, so I insisted.
What was underneath? We could see fitted blue jeans, sexy sandals probably Jimmy Choo or Louboutin, luxurious jewelry, and fantastic haute couture tops. Anything any modern woman could dream of in her clothing department.
So I thanked them for sharing their looks with the other Western lady speakers.
Thus I concluded that at least “these” Muslim women needed no empowerment. They were doing exactly what they wanted and at the same time, their men could be reassured that their ladies were also and conspicuously following the lifestyle they cherished.
What was left for me to say? The only thing that is precious for any woman in the world. I talked about children.
So I proceeded to tell them that my topic will be something close to my heart and that is our children’s education.
Children have too much time off, anywhere in the world. They need to have a structured time allotment to learn what will be good for their future.
I went in that direction, praying to G-D they could consider this at some point in their lives.
I spoke of the array of possibilities for after-school programs, language classes, music classes, etc.
In my mind, this thought was guiding me: “Anything to take your kids away from the madrassas or indoctrination at the mosques.”
There is nothing the West can do to change the situation in the Muslim world. That’s the sad reality.
No wars. No words. No pressure. No incentive. No punishment. And most certainly no reward can change Islam’s lifestyle unless Muslims inside the Muslim world want to change it, slowly or through revolutions. But it will be only up to them.
When Muslims, mid-last century, slowly began wandering westward, Western countries welcome them unconditionally. Big mistake.
Instead of making it a condition that Muslims, as all other immigrants, adopt our customs, laws, and traditions, they received carte blanche to consider the West their home.
The tragedy now is that they are beginning the last stage of the Muslim invasion of the West and there are no signs of redressing the situation.
What began as a battle of ideas and ideologies, will now turn on a war to save Western civilization.
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Thank you very much. Team-EB