three years ago, Rana Ahmad has fled his country and his family. This Saudi of 32 years to become an atheist had no other choice : in saudi Arabia, apostasy is punishable by death by beheading. Today a refugee in Germany, the young woman, an activist of the rights of man, tells his story in Here, women do not dream (Editions Globe). A rare example on the life in saudi Arabia. Rana Ahmad analyzes with acuity the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist with saudi arabia likely to be killed at the saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the “modernizing authoritarian” initiated by the prince all-powerful in the kingdom, Mohammed bin Salman, says MBS. Maintenance.
The Point : According to you, MBS is linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi ?
Rana Ahmad : Yes, this looks like an act committed by the saudi government. Since it is known that it does not allow anyone to criticize the government’s action. And this is precisely what was Jamal in the columns of the Washington Post. He wrote that it was better that the executive to do things like this, and not like that. However, Mohammed bin Salman, who is spending a lot of money for its propaganda in the media, wishes to liquidate any person allowing this kind of criticism.
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Jamal Khashoggi was he an opponent of the monarchy of al-Saud ?
no, not at all. He believed in this government and hoped that he would do something good for the country. But he added that MBS should act in such a way rather than like this. And Mohammed bin Salman does not like to be told how to behave within the government.
Why the journalist, who wrote to Washington, thousands of miles away from saudi Arabia, was it a problem for the crown prince ?
Because he wrote in an important daily, read by millions of readers, and that it’s not going in the desired direction by MBS. But I’m not a political scientist. I am simply giving my opinion on what is going on.
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You consider yourself an opponent ?
No. In all my interviews, I’m not talking about the saudi government, but problems relating to human rights in saudi Arabia, including the right of women. I have nothing particular against this government. Who knows, maybe improve the condition of women in the future. My concern is to examine the situation of men and women, not only in saudi Arabia, but also in the entire arab world.
do you Have fear after what happened at the saudi consulate in Istanbul ?
I think they do not pay attention to me, because I don’t focus on MBS, and the action of the government, but on the rights of man. They don’t really fear someone like me, especially because I’m a woman and an atheist, while the majority of people in saudi Arabia are muslims. If you want to reach the saudi population, it must be like it. This is the case, for example, Omar Abdulaziz, a saudi activist who lives in Canada. He is a muslim and studying politics. It often publishes videos in which he explains why government action is not so perfect. It therefore represents a danger to the executive. It is threatened and has been invited to go to the embassy of saudi Arabia in Canada. But he is smart and did not trust these people.
MBS doesn’t he recently arrested many militants saudi arabian human rights ?
It was inside the country. If you’re in a foreign country, I don’t think he wants you to shut up.
Mohammed bin Salman is the origin of the authorization history of Saudi women to drive, hailed in the West. Is this powder in the eyes ?
He allowed women to drive, and it is something wonderful. But how many women lead actually today in saudi Arabia ? This law is not a right available to all Saudi women. It gives the opportunity for your family to allow you to drive or not. Because, according to the saudi law (the so-called ” tutoring “, editor’s NOTE), women need the permission of the father, the brother or the husband to lead. Thus, only women from rich families or liberal can now drive their car. However, they are few in saudi Arabia, I would say not more than 5 to 10 % of women. And most small cities in the country did not even possess of driving school ! The families are very fundamentalist. If a woman asks her father if he can grant the permission to drive, he will accuse her of being a drag. This law was not aimed at that the western countries. Now, there are women who drive in saudi Arabia, and they are happy. But they do so because their families were allowed.
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in Addition to the driving women, the MBS has also allowed the diversity in the stages, open theatres and concert…
If I am a woman in saudi Arabia, and my husband hits me all the time, I can’t call the police. Because of the tutoring, the police should then call my husband and ask if she has permission to come with us. If he refuses, then he can continue to beat me when he feels like it. In the same way, if I am sexually abused by my father or my brother, I can’t call the police and get help. What can the movie theaters or concerts against these fundamental problems ? These recreation in fact allow the government to receive more money, as they are very expensive in saudi Arabia. If the place you used to cost 100 euros in the arab world, it would be 1 000 euros, in Riyadh.
But isn’t there a first step ?
In fact, if it is to show the world that someone is fantastic or you want to earn more money, not to improve the situation of the rights of man.
He said, however, that Mohammed bin Salman, a young prince, 33 years old, is well supported by its population, particularly by the youth (70 % of the saudi population was under 30 years old, editor’s NOTE). Is this fake ?
It was true when it started. The people adored him, because he is young and that the population really thought it was going to revolutionize the country. But that changed after he was imprisoned many activists. Recently, the government has passed a new law punishing three to five years in prison the author of any written critique of his action. Today, everyone has fear in saudi Arabia and must behave as if he loved the MBS, even if this is not the case.
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” Here, women do not dream “, Rana Ahmad tells his story.
© DRRana Ahmad, Here, the women do not dream, Editions Globe. Translated from the German by Olivier Mannoni.
280 pages, 22 €.
On the same subject, Can we still criticize saudi Arabia ?