|Basmah bint Saud
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Basmah bint Saud at Chatham House in 2013
1 March 1964 |
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
I want to state clearly that I am a humanitarian, not an activist. I do not follow any agendas – only that of humanity, not only in Saudi Arabia, but all over the world.
Early Islam was a time of great creativity. Scholars excelled in sciences and literature.
Early Islam was a time of great creativity. Scholars excelled in sciences and literature. Our religion should not be a shield behind which we hide from the world but a driving force that inspires us to innovate and contribute to our surroundings. This is the true spirit of Islam.
We have ministers who are incapable of doing what has been ordered from above because there is no follow up, because there are no consequences. If you are poor man and you steal, your hand is cut off after three offences. But if you are a rich man, nobody will say anything to you.
My father established the first women's university in the kingdom, abolished slavery, and tried to establish a constitutional monarchy that separates the position of king from that of prime minister.
The way women today are treated in Saudi Arabia is a direct result of the education our children, boys and girls, receive at school.
Our constitution should be inspired by the philosophy of the Koran with principles that are set in stone and not open to the whims of individual judges, as is the case now. In particular, the constitution should protect every citizen's basic human rights regardless of their sex, status or sect. Everyone should be equal before the law.
If China was like the moon, then arriving in Saudi Arabia was Mars. At least you can see the moon from Earth.
On the whole, it is the rights and freedoms of all citizens that are crucial in Saudi Arabia and from those the rights of women will emanate.
Why don't we actually fight for a woman's right even to complain about being beaten up. That is more important than driving. If a woman is beaten, they are told to go back to their homes – their fathers, husbands, brothers – to be beaten up again and locked up in the house.
Today in Saudi, women are either at the mercy of their husbands or at the mercy of judges who tend to side with the husbands. The only circumstance that a woman can ask for a divorce or a 'khali' is when her husband is in total agreement with her or if she comes from a very powerful family who decide to back her up.
Our religious police has the most dangerous effect on society – the segregation of genders, putting the wrong ideas in the heads of men and women, producing psychological diseases that never existed in our country before, like fanatacism.
There is no question that chemical weapons attacks are a heinous abuse of humanity and power. But to assume that military strikes are an effective retribution for the crime committed is wrong.