In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful
Commanding For Good & Preventing From Bad
His Majesty Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
c/o Ambassador Prince Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US
601 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20037
An open letter to Saudi King Abdullah from a devout Muslim Woman, Ghazal Omid, on the issue
of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
Your Majesty King Abdullah, I am writing to you as part of my Islamic duty to urge you to do the
right thing by women in your country.
I am sure you are up-to-date about the situation of women in your country in recent months.
Particularly, those women who try to drive seem to so often end up in prison for a few
hours or, in the case of Manal Al-Sharief, for a few days. In many interviews with Western
media during the past few years you have expressed your desire to allow women to step
into the 21st Century. Your country seems to lag a great deal behind when it comes to
personal freedom, especially in basic rights and freedom for women.
I am hoping when you read this letter you will be reminded that you are not just a King of Saudi
but also King of the Holiest sites and country among Islamic countries. Freeing women In
Saudi Arabia from barbaric rules erroneously portrayed as rules of Islam is not just a
political issue but also an Islamic issue. In the past decade, Islam has become more
politicized than any other issue. What happens in your country is not merely a local
problem. It becomes an Islamic problem and, therefore, a global one. Your country’s rules
step on rights Islam has granted to women. Politics of your country treats habitual and
traditional rules of your Arabic culture as if they are part of Islam; from covering face and
hands to not allowing women to drive, to name a few. In reality, you and I know these are
traditions of your county and have nothing to do with Islam.
At this point, you might suggest that I take a look at my own country, Iran, and mind my own
business, as you sort of hinted to President Obama in the inserted New Yorker article
linked below. King Abullah, I am not just a woman and freedom fighter who fought for a
woman from your country who was raped. Instead of being embraced in her country, the
rules were in favor of her fourteen rapists. Before my NGO joined the intervention, she was
about to be lashed 200 times and imprisoned for a additional three to six months.
More than anything, although not covered I am a devout Muslim woman. I am aware of my
personal sins but when it comes to Islam, I do the right thing by others and speak up when
I know I must. The behavior your countrymen pursue against women is very similar to the
behavior of Arab men of the Saudi Peninsula before Islam when a father or husband would
come home from a journey and bury alive an unwanted baby girl or consider it his right to
rape and kill a wife or any unprotected woman. This isn’t Islam. Not allowing women to
drive would have been considered a sin if Prophet Mohammad PBH were alive today!
What happens today in Saudi would be equal to not allowing women to ride their horse or
camel in 1400 years ago.
The House of God in Mecca is located in the heart of your country. Medina, among the holiest
places on earth is also located in your country. It is not just the politics of your country that
I am worried about. For example, your friendship and concern for a deposed brutal dictator;
stating in the New Yorker article that you are willing to donate the wealth of Muslim nations
and your own people, many of whom suffer greatly, to give sanctuary and afford a
comfortable life for a brutal man, listed by Forbes magazine as among the 100 wealthiest
men in the world, is appalling. There are hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world
in need but your Majesty has not made a single inquiry about them. I can show you e-mails
exchanged with your Embassy staff and ministers in DC documenting how many times I
made inquiry about Hajj meat and where and when it was distributed. I still don’t have a
proper answer. I have only been told it is given to the poor. I want to ensure a system is in
place so the meat can go to Afghanistan. Regrettably, you may not be aware that your staff
seems to be too busy with politics to attend to humanitarian matters.
You also chose to send troops to Bahrain, a country that brutally suppresses its uprising, shooting
innocents in broad day light, spreading an ignoble reputation for brutality and suffering far
beyond its borders.
Your Majesty, I am here to plead with you and remind you of your moral and Islamic responsibility
and the ability of a great leader to eradicate the inequalities between men and women in
your country. You can bring down the walls of ignorance if you so choose. You can
become a revolutionary leader initiating real change in your country; starting by granting
rights to those who have been discriminated against the most. Or, you can let the people
bring the walls down and join history with an unenviable reputation.
I have visited your country, and your Embassy in Washington, DC and I must say, although the
interior and exterior of your Embassy showcases the wealth of your country, I have little
good to say about respect for women in your country. I hope you take this observation with
an open heart that if there is a revolution in your country it will come from those who suffer
I end this open letter with a proverb from Persian Poet SAADI.
“A man is not dead because he passes to the next life. He is dead when people don’t mention his
name with dignity and regards.”