Letter from Saudi Arabia

On October 30, 2007, Caroline B. Glick wrote a column, 'Laura Bush's embrace of tyranny' which took aim at how women in Saudi Arabia are treated.

muslim women 298 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
muslim women 298 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hello Caroline Glick, I am a 20 year old female living in Saudi Arabia. My family and I used to live the United States for 13 years, until we decided to move back to be closer to our relatives. The other day, I was searching for articles on Google and I came across your op-ed on Laura Bush's recent visit to Saudi Arabia. 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. 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. 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. AS FOR OUR education, it is well on its way to becoming one of the best in the world. We have a wide range of opportunities. The college I attend has marketing, accounting, media, nursing, special education, electrical engineering, architecture, management, finance, and psychology. Another college here offers law, graphic design, interior design, banking, Management information system and fashion design. Our public universities offer all departments of medicine, physical therapy, economics, media, sociology, religion, literature, translation and so on. As far as I can see we are well-off, it is just a matter of what interests people. 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. 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. America is not perfect, Europe is not perfect, Israel is not perfect and yes even I admit the Arab Middle East is not perfect. We all have our flaws! What is the use of learning about the world if we all had the same way of living. Our way is our choice. Nothing is forced upon us. My advice to you, Caroline, is to befriend a Saudi. This is the best way to get to understand our culture. Or better yet, visit Saudi Arabia. I did not write this to offend you or the Jerusalem Post, but to set the record straight. I live in Saudi Arabia. I laugh in Saudi. I am happy in Saudi. My life is not any different that it was in the United States. One day my country will rise and shine above all, and I am sure when that happens the world will suddenly want to befriend us. Until then, I will do my part to correct misperceptions about our image. Thank you. Editors note: The writer asked that her full name be kept in confidence.