Here is an article regarding the reaction to Manal Al Sharif’s speech. Remember Manal is an individual with the right to speak to her individual perceptions. She is a woman who cannot drive, nor vote, nor leave the country, nor work, nor get educated unless her “guardian or owner” allows. She is dependent for her very movement upon her guardian’s permission no matter how old she becomes. She is a woman who has been harassed, jailed and so much more. In her effort to free herself and bring her own perception forth she will be ridiculed and often times the worst offenders will be other women.

It is often times women who are the custodians and keepers of their female gender’s imprisonment.
Remember who is it that often times forces their daughters down to undergo a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or to strangle their daughter as they need to have sons?   It is most generally women. Women are the first to uphold imprisonment, torture, hatred, against their own and demand that they be silenced. They demand the status quo to their own detriment of human rights; all the while men are happy to let them do the dirty work of keeping women right where they want them, quite, obedient, and caged.
This is an excellent article that provides some insight on the reaction within Saudi Arabia.

Originally posted on Saudiwoman's Weblog:

Last week Manal Al Sharif won the Vaclav Havel prize for Creative Dissent and gave a 17 minute speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum. She talked about her personal struggle and transition from extremism to becoming her own woman. She related this personal story to the historical and factual events going on around her in Saudi and abroad.

The speech was not received well in Saudi. Although no one actually denies the truth of what Manal had to say, they still opposed it. The opposition bubbles down to three main points:

1-Shhhh! Don’t let the infidels know how bad it is for women in Saudi since it represents Islam. One example of this is Hana Al Hakeem’s long rant on the Oslo speech where she concludes with

I wish that Sharif had not published our dirty laundry on the roofs of our neighbors (and I mean the status of…

View original 527 more words

12 comments on “

  1. Miriam says:

    Like anywhere in the world, there is opposition, and different opinions. What I cannot understand is how you condemn people who oppose her while at the same time want the right to speak for yourself? Shouldn’t the opposers also have a voice to make their criticism heard? The objective of her speech was unclear. Her academic skills in presenting a topic that lacked depth and objectivity made us wonder what was her aim. This is the main source of problem with her speech. The segments are unrelated and therefore, people can easily take out her uncontextualized comments about Saudi Arabia. I for one, had great respect for Manal, but once I heard her speech, I can not help but feel her message is murky. She touched upon history, Saudi men, tradition, culture, religion, and of course politics in the space of 19 minutes with reference to her own opinions,yet claiming to represent the voice of all Saudi women. How can anybody give fairness to such a presentation when referring to so many topics?!
    She mixed religion with tradition and she was addressing a foreign audience who do not know any different, so why did she not do Islam justice? She presented a horrible picture of a woman covered from top to bottom. The fact is some want to wear their hijab that way, but she ridiculed every single woman who covers that way, is that Islamic? Is it moral to do that? Does this woman not also have the right to wear her hijab that way? Of course she will be backed-up by westerns who believe that women are trapped in their hijabs, and she holds responsible for the impression she has given. She said she never listened to music. This is was her choice given the fact her brother listened to music. She opposed what Islam said about music! If this is her opinion, then she should have stated that! She just brushed off the Prophet’s saying about music. How dare she? How do you expect Muslims do be ok with it.

    You mentioned in your article it was Manal’s personal narrative, yet she seemed to talk in ‘we’ voice, and ‘they’. Let us not kid ourselves she was talking on behalf of all Saudies, and that is Oslo Speech’s objectives There is no wonder there is up roar on her comments on how she was in the box NOT because of her choices but because of the influences. She was easily influenced then, and she lacked her own individuality to differentiate between right from wrong, why did she not state that? Why is her lack of responsibility and maturity not mentioned?

    One last note, we are not like westerners wherein they are not held responsible for what we say. We as Muslims are. Allah will judge us on what we say, and what we do and how we represent ourselves. She did not represent herself as a good Muslim. She never mentioned how Islam has made her a better person. She recently tweeted that someone who did a study on Hijab who stated that Hijab is not in Islam!

    No body can deny that people have to right to oppose her, especially those who are passionate about their religion. I think the fact that even her supporters are not pointing out her faults, is a mistake. We are humans and we should learn from our mistakes, and the fact remains that she made plenty of huge mistakes that lost her the trust of many supporters including female ones, and I am one of them.

    • bigstick1 says:


      Regarding the we and they issue.

      So she put herself in jail, kept herself from driving, was harassed to a point of having to quit her job, can’t leave the country, can’t get an education, can live without the black death sack, all because she chose this. Is this what you are saying? That she herself forced herself to abide by ridged apartheid standards that curtailed her freedom; that she chose her religion, etc. She did this to herself is that what you are saying?

      Next Islam.

      Your highest clerics of the land have called for the death of apostates, witches, breastfeeding adult men so women can work, destruction of churches in other countries, child rape (marriage), etc. THESE ARE YOUR IMAM – HIGHEST AUTHORITY

      It keeps women from driving (also sanctions by clerics), allowed girls to be burned in 2002 due to lack of black death sack, kills homosexuals, kills witches, believes in evil eyes, etc.


      When women ask for their rights beyond the culture/religion, it is stated that they cannot have them because it goes against the quran but yet “there is no compulsion in religion” yet there is; 9.5 maybe. Could it be that the passage was actually abrogated and you are doing exactly what the abrogated abridged quran states?

      Just a few questions for you, maybe you can clear them up for me.

      • Miriam says:

        1. She did get educated from King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She got free education and was given a monthly salary from the university. 2. She was able to leave the country as you can see. the speech was not made in Saudi. 3. As for what you referred to as the ‘black sack’.. Well you said it yourself ‘sack’ no one wears one of those. So she did get educated herself, she did choose to travel and was able to. 4. She resigned from her job because she was not given leave and not because she was harressed. She tweeted that she resigned because there was conflict of interest not harrassment as you kindly mentioned. That is my reply to the topic of the article you posted. I would suggest you get your facts straight.

        As for your reference to the culture of Saudi Arabia and women which you seem to be at rage with, you should try and read more about it as I am sure you are not genuine when you are asking a stranger to clear such horrific things you have heard. It seemed you were lost for words on Manal’s case, so shifted to redicule the country as a whole. I am glad you replied the way that you did as it highlghts how objective and fair you are, and your purpose behind posting such an article. I suppose there are no harressments or sexual abusers in the west, nor is there so-called holy men-priests- who abuse haress and rape kids for years and the church have been covering it as not too loose face (read up on the Irish priests for instance) . Oprah is still ranting on how abusers are still on the loose (look back oh her episodes). I am presuming there is no prostitution in either, or is it is considered an honorable moral profession to earn money to live or pay for a next fix? Nor is there child/women trafficing? There are no girls as young as 12 who get pregnant not due to rape,but becuase they either wanted to, or was accidental (look up the UK and US for statistics).

        People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. It is so easy to find criticism when you look for it,and more importanty when you have an agenda behind it. Mr.Moore, an American who he himself demonstrated how the US government is a farce, how people are left to die because they have’nt got health care.

        Manal Alsharif should have stayed in the US. I don’t know what would provoke her to go back to Saudi. Yea she would loose out on free mendical care, and free education opportunties, but she would be so much happier in a more so-called safer enviornment than the one you portrayed. I’m sure she has solid grounds to seek refuge. You should suggest that to her and help her escape.

        P.S I would have been more precise with the some of the references but I don’t believe it would benefit an Islamicphobic

  2. bigstick1 says:

    Maybe you should read my blog as I have voiced my opinion on many of these matters. Next calling me an Islamicphonic will not stop me from discussing the issues. Nowhere will I state that western countries are saints, they are not. There is prostitution everywhere, child abuse everywhere, wife beatings everywhere, etc. That is just a fact. However, I will not be silent to the known atrocities that exist including that in Saudi Arabia. I don’t care for them anywhere in fact and I don’t care to remain silent on them either.

    Now currently the religion of Islam has become very intolerant, murderous, etc. and I am voicing my dislike and resistance to it. Next what you may deem as a culture to which limits women or religious matters that harms others I deem as a human rights violation based upon superstutions, make believe and the failure to move forward in thinking due to someone benefitting from the torture, slavery, oppression, etc of another human being. I really don’t care where in this world it occurs or by what means (religion, culture, or tradition) then it is a human right violation. Full stop.

    I have discussed her issues and they are her issues, that’s what you seem to fail to understand. Yes, she may have not put many things in a perspective that you would like however, in a 17 minutes monologue it is difficult to expand upon the issue. In addition, Manal is not a public speaker and has been brought up in a known culture of keeping women from speaking in public. I might add that this does create problems for anyone as to how to tailor your speech that gets your point across as well as limited exposure to being thrust into the limelight unexpectedly. I have a habit of providing leeway to those who are inexperience, who have been thrust into situations that they never thought would occur and limited exposure to multifaceted media pressure.

    Also it is well known that Saudi prevents women from doing much without their guardians approval. Therefore Manal was able to benefit from this only upon the good graces of her relative or male guardian. Many other women are not so lucky.

    I wonder were you placed in jail for trying to obtain a right? Maybe you should re-think your dislike of her stance as she might one day be deemed as a catalyst to women driving in Saudi.

    Last thing you are dealing with an atheist so don’t expect a whole lot from me on any religion as I deem them all to be make believe.

  3. Miriam says:

    I don’t believe anyone here is stopping you from voicing your opinion, or as you mentioned ‘silenced’, so I don’t know why you have a chip on your shoulder over that.

    I apologize if the word ‘Islamphobic’ was not your liking. It felt that when you moved from the topic of ‘Manal’s speech’ to pointing out so called facts about Islam and the Saudi society specifically. It was a diversion and an opportunity to vent out on Islam. If I was mistaken, then my sincere apologies.

    I did not mention anything about culture or anything that religion claims to be about that actually harms anyone. That is your assumption not mine!

    You bashed up the Saudi society diverting from the topic discussed here, which is Manal’s speech in order to back her up. This is not a justified argument and therefore, I pointed out some issues in other societies highlighting that this is not a stance to take to get your point across.

    She spoke about herself, but she was representing the society and this is the objective of the speech given in the forum. This is an obvious fact. This is why many have a lot to say about it. Those who oppose Manal do not oppose her because she wants to drive, but because of the many misconceptions she presented in forum as a Muslim person presenting the Saudi society. Again, this is why the article is called the ‘Saudi reaction’, and not ‘The reaction..’. It might be a little difficult for you to understand this point not being a Muslim and this is understandable.

    Maybe you should read more about about Saudi women and public speaking. Many Saudi women are public speakers. In fact here is a link here I was just watching The presenter is a Saudi woman, I may add, and so are the other women who are either on the phone or in the studio they all are Saudi. Again, get your facts straight, please. The fact that she lacked the skills to publicly speak well is not an excuse because of her society! She wasn’t trusted into the limelight. She wanted it, and got it. End of.

    You are not responding to the fact you made errors about Manal’s background.

    Were you placed in Jail for obtaining a right, or do you have no cause at all, but to pass judgement on those who oppose you?

    Because your an atheist does not mean that you ridicule those who believe in a religion. As you may like to be respected for your opinion, you should respect others for theirs. I do not mean agree with them, disagree but do not get personal, because you are being subjective then and there is no value to what you may think you are stating. Being objective in how you view things is a moderate way of perceiving things. It is ironic how a Muslim is mentioning moderation with an atheist.

    All the best.

    • bigstick1 says:


      So if it is not Saudi culture and the interpretation of religion that keeps women from driving, demands that they have permission from their guardians to do just about anything (hope they have a good one), forced to were the abaya irregardlessly of the fact that they hate it or feel it demeans them,others not just women being forced to not be allowed to practice their religion or lack of faith, killed for being a witch/socerer, lashed for possibly saying something against the prophet (depending on the persons interpretation or understanding or groupthink), jailed for tweeting then what is it.

      Curious minds want to know.

      Next just because there are a few women who are privileged enough based upon wealth and wasta to voice an opinion often times to the detriment of women’s freedom and movement without a guardian doesn’t mean that this is a standard but an exception.

  4. Coolred38 says:

    Mariam…when you say we in the west do not have consequences for what we say…but you muslims must live to a higher standard to please god/allah, what are you saying…that muslims have higher morals than us in the west? That muslims fear consequences more…that are above others in some regards simply because they believe in god/allah? We in the west just open our mouths and who the heck cares what falls out? You tell the writer of this blog not to paint a whole country/culture/religion wth one broad stroke but what have you done with that statement?

    No, saudi is not all bad, no country is, but it certainly could use a more woman friendly approach. And to use that whole, yeah we do it but look at you, is complete bunk when you just said, we have to be more careful cause god is watching us. (so to speak) I wish god was watching you (any you) nearly as close as you would have us believe…maybe there would be a little more fear in those islamic clerics and moral police (what a joke) who oppress and abuse in his name.

  5. Miriam says:

    Women speaking publicly is not an exception with all respect to you.. This is a fact and not assumption. There are many women voicing their opinions about the Saudi government and debates are held live on TV. It is not only the wealthy or privileged. Like anywhere else in the world, everyone’s voice is heard, so let’s be objective rather than throw random comments to make an argument.

    Let us let the Muslim women talk for themselves in terms of wearing the Hijab not only in Saudi but in other countries and who specifically wear the ‘abaya’.. I do not believe Manal was forced to wear her head scarf in a country that stand for freedom – so they claim themselves.

    Again you diverted back talking about the Saudi society, which I do not believe there is much room here to elaborate on. But there is a lot to read in you library and on your fingertips here on the net which are not subjective to highlighting merely the negative points. As I mentioned before we can all find faults and criticism when searching for it.

    • bigstick1 says:

      I fail to see your agrument about me reverting back to Saudi Society as the speech and her issues are based upon Saudi Society.

      Next, I believe your post that I left a reply on, on the Saudi woman blog, states it all; that you are a prime example of what I am talking about in the introduction of this article.

      • Miriam says:

        In one instance it is merely a narrative, in another in is the Saudi society, please choose which one you would rather attempt to argue about.

        Pass judgement as you like because you do not like what I am pointing out, it does not affect me in any way. Readers will read and decide for themselves. I do not need to say who and what you represent, but my argument is stronger than to point fingers. :)

  6. bigstick1 says:

    The narrative itself discusses Saudi society and it’s affects upon her life. Ergo it is incapsulated into the conversation as is religion since this is one of the reasons why women are told they cannot drive. You cannot discuss the speech without discussing the factors that contributed to the speech.

    See the point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s