Saudi women in Riyadh.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Fahad Shadeedw)
Taleb Al-Abdulmohsen, a Saudi Arabian activist, created a website to help former Muslims gain asylum in other countries and abscond maltreatment in their Middle Eastern native countries - wherever they may be, according to a BBC News report.
Al-Abulmohsen is currently living in Germany under asylum, he left Saudi Arabia after renouncing his Muslim faith in fear of persecution, an claims himself now to be an atheist. He created the website wearesaudis.net, in order to help those who have found themselves in a similar situation compared to his own.
"I created a website to help people seeking asylum, especially from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region," Al-Abulmohsen said in the BBC interview. "I use basically WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram. If I have time, I spend you know [in total] helping Saudi asylum seekers between 10 to 16 hours a day, if I have time."
In some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, disaffiliating, abandoning or renouncing the Muslim religion, also known as apostasy, can be punishable by death.
Al-Abulmohsen's life was threatened back in Saudi Arabia after his renunciation, and now his website has helped hundreds of former Muslims escape victimization themselves in the Gulf region.
"The only Arab country from which I did not have an ex-Muslim seeking help until now from me is Oman," he said, alluding to the fact that many citizens across all the Gulf Arab nations are either experiencing the same victimization he faced or fear the repercussions of pushing back against government or family pressure.
"90% of people who approach me are women between 18 and 30 years old," Al-Abulmohsen stated.
Al-Abulmohsen's website has now become quite popular after dealing with the high profile case of Rahaf Mohammed, a Saudi teen who was detained in Bangkok airport by Thai authorities while attempting to seek asylum in Australia from Kuwait, earlier this January.
Mohammed publicly stated that she left her country in order to escape her family which she claimed both abused and threatened to kill her for leaving the Muslim religion. After an appeal to social media for help, gaining her worldwide attention, Thai authorities decided instead of returning her to back to Kuwait to hand her into the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Mohammed was granted asylum in Canada just six days after her detainment in Bangkok.
Al-Abulmohsen is now assisting a woman known as "Dina" from the United Arab Emirates on her journey through the asylum process. Dina similarly to Mohammed fled her country to escape her family, and she used wearesaudis.net to decamp from her uncompromising Muslim family, in fear that her relatives will force her to marry.
"I wasn't allowed out with friends. I was forced to wear a hijab. I obviously took it off when I went to school because I didn't like it and most of the girls in school didn't wear it," Dina said. "I enjoyed fasting because other people around me did it but I was forced into that too and as I got older I hated it."
According to Dina, if you renounce Islam in the United Arab Emirates you will be sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
"The UAE is fully committed to tolerance and is extremely proud of its religious diversity," a Spokesperson for the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the BBC, and claims that there are no repercussions for apostasy in their country.
However, according to the BBC report, Dina's largest fear stems from maltreatment from her family members.
"I decided to leave when my mother started bringing up marriage. I made it clear to her that I didn't want to so I decided to leave right there and then," Dina said to the BBC. "I was scared that my family would go tell on me. I was scared that they wouldn't get me out if I did get in jail."
"I don't miss my mom and dad but I miss my sisters. I mean if my little sister got older and she wanted to come here I'd help her, I'd help her come and be with me," she concluded.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>