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Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, January 2021. Photograph: AP

The apparent end to the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and a reconciliation among the states involved prompts the question: when will the Saudi government release the citizens who were caught up in the conflict and imprisoned during the three and a half-year crisis?

In a breakthrough, it was announced on 4 January that Saudi Arabia had opened its land border with Qatar, paving the way for an easing of tensions that had led to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severing diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in mid-2017. On 5 January, the annual GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) summit took place in Saudi Arabia’s north-western Al-Ula province.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump was an unabashed supporter of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Monday, a court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sentenced Loujain al-Hathloul, the Saudi activist, to five years and eight months in prison. Ms. al-Hathloul, who campaigned for the right of women to drive, was convicted of “trying to harm national security” and advancing “a foreign agenda.” She has already been in prison for two and a half years. A combination of time served and partial sentence suspension could lead to her release in a month or so.

Ms. al-Hathloul’s case has attracted international attention and condemnation from United Nations human rights experts, the U.S. House of Representatives and numerous rights organizations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul is seen in an undated photo. (Reuters)

This week, some of the most powerful women from around the world attended the virtual Women20 (W20) conference, part of the Group of 20 summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia. But who was missing? For one, my sister Loujain al-Hathloul, an award-winning women’s rights activist, who is in a maximum-security prison cell only 25 miles from Riyadh.

In recent years, my sister was one of the only Saudi women who dared to attend international conferences outside of the kingdom to discuss the truth about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She spoke out about the injustice of the repressive patriarchal systems in the kingdom, which grant men almost total superiority before the law and give them the absolute right to guardianship over their wives and children.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s time for democratic change in Saudi Arabia

On Wednesday, as Saudi Arabia celebrated its National Day with regime propaganda extolling 90 years of prosperity and security, a group of exiles based in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and elsewhere announced the formation of the National Assembly Party (NAAS), a party rooted in democratic principles seeking to restore basic rights for Saudi society, such as freedom of speech, accountability, elections and respect international law.

We consider it a matter of urgency to break the silence over the Saudi regime’s ongoing domestic repression and violation of international norms.

Two years after Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal killing, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to rule by the sword.…  Seguir leyendo »

In July, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined three Democratic colleagues, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, in a letter to President Trump urging action on a case that has gotten far too little media attention — the apparent detention of the son and daughter of Saad al Jabri.

The lawmakers expressed grave concern that Omar and Sarah al Jabri were being held against their will to compel their father’s return from Canada to Riyadh to face charges of corruption.

Mr. al Jabri served under former Minister of Interior Muhammad bin Nayef (widely known as MBN), the onetime next-in-line for the Saudi throne who has been displaced by now-Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS).…  Seguir leyendo »

UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard said the murder was likely "premeditated execution."

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi should be hailed a hero for paying the ultimate price for his belief in free speech. Instead, his murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year serves as a cautionary tale: no matter how brutal the crime, no matter how well-known the victim might be, no matter how incriminating the evidence, justice proves elusive for those who speak truth to power.

Last year was one of the most dangerous for the media. The number of reporters who were murdered and disappeared in 2018 went up on the previous year, and "journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018," according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).…  Seguir leyendo »

Despite the claims of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his enablers, Saudi Arabia is not rolling back the hard-line religious establishment. Instead, the kingdom is curtailing the voices of moderation that have historically combated extremism. Numerous Saudi activists, scholars and thinkers who have sought reform and opposed the forces of extremism and patriarchy have been arrested. Many of them face the death penalty.

Salman Alodah, my father, is a 61-year-old scholar of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, a reformist who argued for greater respect for human rights within Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran. His voice was heard widely, partly owing to his popularity as a public figure with 14 million followers on Twitter.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jailed Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloul

On Thursday night, Mariah Carey will perform on stage in Saudi Arabia. This concert is a pathetic attempt to show that the country is becoming more tolerant toward women.

But there are many women languishing in Saudi prisons, simply for campaigning for the better treatment of women.

Some of them have been brutally tortured and sexually assaulted. One of these women is my sister, Loujain Alhathloul. As a fan of Carey's work, I'd like to see her ask for the release of my sister while she is on stage.

After eight months of praying that she'd be released, I am here to tell her story.…  Seguir leyendo »

As of this month, women in Saudi Arabia will be informed by text if their husbands are divorcing them. Prior to this technological update, husbands could divorce their wives without even notifying them. On its website, the Saudi Ministry of Justice claims that the measure will protect "the rights of female clients."

However, the text is nothing but a symbolic technological advancement to mask a flourishing system that reinforces men's ownership of women.

Even with a text notification, Saudi women's marital rights remain largely the same: effectively non-existent. Knowledge of the divorce does not ensure the right to alimony or affect custody of children.…  Seguir leyendo »

Loujain al-Hathloul in 2014, when she took a widely-viewed video of herself as she drove from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia.CreditLoujain Al-Hathloul/Loujain al-Hathloul, via Associated Press

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Saudi Arabia on Sunday, he is expected to discuss Yemen, Iran and Syria and “seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

I am struck by what is not included in Mr. Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity. Mr. Pompeo’s apathy is personal for me because one of the women detained, Loujain al-Hathloul, is my sister. She has worked relentlessly to earn Saudi women the right to drive.

I live in Brussels.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tragedy of Fahad Albutairi and Loujain al-Hathloul

A couple years ago, when I was writing for “American Dad!,” I needed an Arabic speaker for a small part. Our casting director recommended a Saudi comedian named Fahad Albutairi, who happened to be in Los Angeles for a couple of months shooting a television show. I looked him up. He was the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in the kingdom, the “Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia.” He had a couple million Twitter followers. (He has none now; I’ll get to that.) He was, frankly, way more interesting than the part.

The day of the recording, I walked to the booth to meet Fahad and direct his session.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman waits for the family photo during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last month.CreditCreditAndres Martinez Casares/Reuters

In November 2015, I spent a couple of weeks reporting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It had been less than two years since my last visit to the country and just 10 months since King Salman’s ascension to the throne, but the mood among local activists and intellectuals had darkened considerably. On my final evening, my friend Fahad al-Fahad, a marketing consultant and human rights activist, offered to take me on a tour that, he suggested, might help to explain the new atmosphere.

We drove to the Jaffali mosque, where, just outside, public beheadings are carried out, and where, earlier that year, Raif Badawi, another Saudi activist, had been flogged before hundreds of onlookers.…  Seguir leyendo »


Arabia Saudí de nuevo en las primeras páginas por asuntos relacionados con los derechos humanos. No es algo nuevo, el régimen saudí vulnera continua y sistemáticamente los más elementales derechos humanos. Ahora es por la ejecución de 47 personas acusadas de terrorismo. Es la punta del iceberg de todas las violaciones de la dignidad humana que se dan en ese país. Sin embargo, los poderes occidentales lo consideran uno de los principales aliados económico, político y militar en la Región de Oriente Medio[1]. Para los intereses de las potencias occidentales, con Estados Unidos a la cabeza, poco importa que los gobernantes saudíes no respeten los derechos humanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recent headline-grabbing events coming out of Saudi Arabia overshadow an issue which has been simmering for years: the plight of the country’s migrant workers.  Western governments need to take a – albeit uncomfortable – stand against their ally.

The first planes arrived at Bole airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in early November 2013. As the passengers spilled out onto the tarmac, they were soon joined by hundreds of other returnees scrambling to collect their belongings and to make their way to the migrant transit centres. From November 2013 to March 2014, an estimated 160,000 more Ethiopians were to follow. Deported from Saudi Arabia during an unprecedented crackdown on undocumented migrant workers, they were given the ultimatum: voluntarily leave or face deportation.…  Seguir leyendo »

La diplomatie saoudienne a longtemps cultivé la discrétion. Elle vient pourtant de se placer au centre du jeu multilatéral en enregistrant une victoire majeure devant le Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU. Le 2 octobre dernier, elle a en effet empêché la mise en place d’une enquête internationale sur la conduite de ses frappes aériennes au Yémen.

C’est là la vraie victoire de l’Arabie saoudite à l’ONU, et non comme on a pu l’entendre la nomination quelques semaines plus tôt de son ambassadeur à la tête du comité consultatif du Conseil des droits de l’Homme, une position honorifique mais aux pouvoirs restreints.…  Seguir leyendo »

Activists of the global civic movement Avaaz dressed as Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi and Germany's Minister of Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, right, demonstrate in front of the military airport of Tegel Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 7, 2015. (Gero Breloer/Ap Images For Avaaz)

On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.

Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.

Then this January, in a show of cruelty, the authorities lashed Raif 50 times.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two of Saudi Arabia’s leading activists for women’s rights were recently sentenced to 10 months in prison — after which they will have their passports withdrawn for two years — for trying to take food to a battered spouse who had been locked in her home with her three young children without provisions. This vindictive, trumped-up case is a symptom of the kingdom’s regression on human rights. Several monarchies in the Persian Gulf have reacted to the Arab Spring by tightening their grip.

In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, perhaps under the impetus of the shock of that event, Saudi Arabia experienced small but perceptible measures of liberalization.…  Seguir leyendo »

The 10-year prison sentences a Saudi court handed down last weekend are more significant than the sad fate of two moderate political activists who persisted in calling for a constitutional monarchy and respect for human rights. The saga is a microcosm of the political dilemma facing the House of Saud and, by extension, a challenge to U.S. policy, which from one administration to the next supports the regime while remaining silent about Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.

The two dissidents, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid, were accused of, among other things, sedition, providing inaccurate information to the foreign media and founding an unlicensed human rights organization, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (known as ACPRA).…  Seguir leyendo »

Riyadh’s Criminal Court is scheduled to announce a verdict Wednesday in a trial of two of Saudi Arabia’s leading human rights activists. Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid face 11 criminal charges, including tarnishing the reputation of the state and providing false information to international organizations about thousands of Saudis who have been arbitrarily detained.

The six-month trial has received scant media attention — Saudi police detained a Sky News crew that tried to report on the final court hearing on Dec. 29.

Washington has been silent. With the Middle East in turmoil and its other bedrock Arab ally, Hosni Mubarak, gone, the United States has become ever more reliant on Saudi Arabia to help restore regional stability.…  Seguir leyendo »