Egypt: Dalia Ziada urges Saudi Arabia to end discrimination against Muslim women
Date posted: March 10, 2009
On the occasion of Prophet Mohamed's birthday, Egyptian blogger Dalia Ziada launches a campaign asking Saudi Arabia to end their discrimination against young Muslim women worldwide! Dalia started her post by talking about this official holiday in Egypt:
Today, Egypt – and only Egypt – celebrates the blessed birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We, Egyptians, call it: Mawlid Elnaby. On this day, Egyptian Muslims buy special desserts (halawet elmwalid), exchange cordial visits with relatives and acquaintances, and above all hold commemoration sessions to remember Prophet Muhammad.
Here is what triggered her campaign:
After performing the noon prayers, the idea of making a religious trip to Mecca and Prophet's tomb in Saudi Arabia popped up to my mind.
Her search results were shocking:
I am not allowed to do "O'mra!" [a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca] Why? Because I am a young woman under the age of 45! The only solution for me to get to my beloved Prophet's land is to be accompanied by a male chaperon. My mother is not enough!! Do you know what a male chaperon is? A first-degree male relative: father, brother, husband, or son! I am in a big trouble, then. My father is dead, my two brothers are not interested and I cannot afford paying for their tickets, I do not have a husband and of course I do not have a son!! What can I do, now?!
What infuriated the young activist more was:
I have traveled to places much far than Saudi Arabia. I was completely alone! I did not do something wrong, and nothing wrong was done to me in any of my previous trips overseas!!
Upon investigating this law further, she learnt that:
such an unjustified restriction is the pure invention of Saudi Arabia and has nothing to do with Islam! Thus, Saudi government is blocking one-third of Muslims (i.e. Muslim women) around the world from practicing a duty of their religion imposed on them by Allah! Who says that Saudi government's word is superior to the word of Allah?! Who told them that Mecca and Prophet Muhammad is their own and they have the right to prevent whomever they want from visiting them?!
Dalia then links her personal sense of injustice to her female counterparts living in KSA:
Actually, no wonder! Saudi Arabia is the biggest abuser of women rights in the whole region. They deprive women from showing their faces, driving a car, or even working or socially mixing with men! Saudis commit these awful violations against women rights in the name of Islam. They distort the image of our tolerant religion. But, I am not Saudi Arabian; why should I comply with their naïve rules, then? This is not fair!
Back to the issue of the Prophet's birthday:
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia does not celebrate Prophet's birthday. That is despite the facts that: 1) the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in Saudi Arabia; 2) his mission to call for the religion of Islam started in Saudi Arabia; 3) he lived his whole life in Saudi Arabia; and 4) Saudi government holds all property rights for Prophet's belongings and monuments. So, how come Saudi Arabia does not celebrate Prophet's birthday?!! They even consider the Prophet's birthday celebrations, we – Muslim Egyptians – do, a heresy (beda'a)!!!
Dalia is now calling upon:
world feminists, moderate Muslims, and those who believe in women rights in the Muslim world to join me in my upcoming fight against the Saudi government for getting my right (as a woman) to practice my religion with complete freedom, liberated from the unreasonable restrictions imposed by extremists and patriarchal governments like that of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia does not have "monopoly rights" over Islam!
Muslimah Media Watch tackled the issue of how women in KSA are treated like legal minors.
Zoheir al-Harithi, spokesman for Saudi’s Human Rights Commission, says that the report didn’t focus on productive efforts to improve the situation as well as confused tradition with state policy. “We agree with some points and we are working on that as a commission for the government, but we don’t agree with the generalisation.” You can download the full report, Perpetual Minors: Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia, here.
Dalia Ziada created a Facebook group here for her campaign.