A Gulf woman in the White House

 25 Apr 2013 - 3:53

The international media has paid much attention to statements by US-born Saudi woman Areel Mohanna Al Lami, in which she said she was planning to join the 2020 presidential race in America when she reached the legal age for running in the election.

Al Lami became well-known during the last two presidential elections, when she served as observer for the elections and supervisor of Obama’s presidential campaign.

In her future presidential electoral campaign programme, Al Lami said she would ask major businessmen to donate houses to the homeless in America, call for restructuring educational curricula and do everything possible to create jobs for Americans.

As for the Middle East, Al Lami said she would put the Palestinian issue on table for discussion, expressing the hope that it will be liberated before she becomes a candidate.

Campaign propaganda aside, the message is directed at Arab people in general and Gulf citizens in particular. Women in the Gulf states still suffer at all levels, especially with regard to political rights, as they cannot vote or occupy the positions of prime minister or president.

Is the situation of men any better? Is it possible for them to get high political and social positions without having influential relatives or the right tribal, family or sectarian loyalties? 

Nevertheless, women are wronged due to the Personal Status Laws, the laws of marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Not only that, if they marry a foreigner, their husband and children cannot get their nationality. Besides, they suffer discrimination in the labour law and lack legal protection from underage marriage as there is no law stipulating a minimum age for marriage, nor any that criminalises sexual harassment.

Laws on honour killing and sexual abuse exempt the criminal if he agrees to marry the victim, or if a family member (father or brother) kills the victim to end his “disgrace” or protect his “honour”.

So do we approve of Arab women and men seeking full citizenship rights in another part of the world? They should seek solutions to the problems in their home countries before they try to liberate Jerusalem from the corridors of the White House.

 

The international media has paid much attention to statements by US-born Saudi woman Areel Mohanna Al Lami, in which she said she was planning to join the 2020 presidential race in America when she reached the legal age for running in the election.

Al Lami became well-known during the last two presidential elections, when she served as observer for the elections and supervisor of Obama’s presidential campaign.

In her future presidential electoral campaign programme, Al Lami said she would ask major businessmen to donate houses to the homeless in America, call for restructuring educational curricula and do everything possible to create jobs for Americans.

As for the Middle East, Al Lami said she would put the Palestinian issue on table for discussion, expressing the hope that it will be liberated before she becomes a candidate.

Campaign propaganda aside, the message is directed at Arab people in general and Gulf citizens in particular. Women in the Gulf states still suffer at all levels, especially with regard to political rights, as they cannot vote or occupy the positions of prime minister or president.

Is the situation of men any better? Is it possible for them to get high political and social positions without having influential relatives or the right tribal, family or sectarian loyalties? 

Nevertheless, women are wronged due to the Personal Status Laws, the laws of marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Not only that, if they marry a foreigner, their husband and children cannot get their nationality. Besides, they suffer discrimination in the labour law and lack legal protection from underage marriage as there is no law stipulating a minimum age for marriage, nor any that criminalises sexual harassment.

Laws on honour killing and sexual abuse exempt the criminal if he agrees to marry the victim, or if a family member (father or brother) kills the victim to end his “disgrace” or protect his “honour”.

So do we approve of Arab women and men seeking full citizenship rights in another part of the world? They should seek solutions to the problems in their home countries before they try to liberate Jerusalem from the corridors of the White House.