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Disappeared Saudi couple highlights crackdown on women's rights activists

No.337097 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/disappeared-saudi-couple-highlights-crackdown-activists-190109093412494.html

The cases of Saudi stand-up comedian Fahad al-Butairi and his wife, Loujain al-Hathloul, a women's right-to-drive activist, who were arrested in 2018, has resurfaced following a Twitter thread detailing their disappearance.

In a series of tweets, American writer and television producer Kirk Rudell spoke about his friendship with the Saudi couple who tried to challenge the kingdom's strict social rules.

The tweets about their disappearance went viral, spotlighting Saudi Arabia's crackdown on activists and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.

"I'd like to see what they could do in this world, if they were given the chance," said Rudell, adding, "I'd like to have that dinner with them some day."

In a follow-up tweet, Rudell said he was "overwhelmed" by the response to his tweets, including one from California Congressman Adam Schiff, who said he would contact Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States about the case.

Both Butairi, 33, and Hathloul, 29, were arrested in 2018. Butairi's whereabouts are unknown, while Halthloul remains incarcerated.
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Another Saudi woman takes to Twitter to 'escape abusive family'

No.342578 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/saudi-woman-takes-twitter-escape-abusive-family-190117100510499.html

Identified as Nojoud al-Mandeel, she posts audio clip alleging her father beat and burned her 'over something trivial'.

Another Saudi woman has turned to social media for protection from her father, just days after Canada granted refuge to Rahaf Mohammed (who dropped her family name of al-Qunun after her family denounced her), the 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family.

Identified only as Nojoud al-Mandeel on Twitter, her case differs from that of Mohammed. She has not fled the kingdom, has not revealed her face and has only made her pleas for help on Twitter in Arabic.

On Monday, al-Mandeel posted an audio clip on Twitter, alleging that her father had beaten and burned her "over something trivial".
NEWS /SAUDI ARABIA
Another Saudi woman takes to Twitter to 'escape abusive family'

Identified as Nojoud al-Mandeel, she posts audio clip alleging her father beat and burned her 'over something trivial'.

Another Saudi woman has turned to social media for protection from her father, just days after Canada granted refuge to Rahaf Mohammed (who dropped her family name of al-Qunun after her family denounced her), the 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family.

Identified only as Nojoud al-Mandeel on Twitter, her case differs from that of Mohammed. She has not fled the kingdom, has not revealed her face and has only made her pleas for help on Twitter in Arabic.

On Monday, al-Mandeel posted an audio clip on Twitter, alleging that her father had beaten and burned her "over something trivial".

She also posted a video looking onto a neighbour's gated pool, where she says she jumped from her bedroom window before a friend picked her up and they escaped.

Saudi teen who left Islam and fled male guardianship laws requests Australia residence

No.337104 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.abc.net.au/article/10703984

Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun reacts to Australian resettlement option with smile, dancing emojis

Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun's first reaction to the news Australia might resettle her was disbelief, then emojis.

"Is it true??? Australia wants me to go there??? I'm so happy," she wrote, followed by emojis showing hands pressed together in thanks, a smiley face, and a woman dancing.

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

"The Department ... will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals," it said in a statement.

Ms Alqunun's asylum application was fast-tracked, partly because of security concerns, after the young woman's father and brother arrived in Bangkok and asked Thai police to see her.

Ms Alqunun, 18, flew into Thailand from Kuwait on the weekend, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.
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A Star-Studded Soccer Game Was Saudi Arabia's Latest Attempt to 'Sportswash' Rights Abuses

No.342962 ViewReplyOriginalReport
http://amp.timeinc.net/time/5505758/saudi-arabia-soccer-human-rights

A headed goal from soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo propelled Juventus to 1–0 victory over rivals AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) Wednesday, but the reluctance of the sport’s top players and clubs to speak out against Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses has prompted accusations they are complicit in ‘sportswashing’ for the Gulf state.


The game took place at Saudi Arabia’s 62,000-capacity King Abdullah Stadium, where a fan-zone featured mock gondoliers and Venetian bridges, soccer stars posed for pre-match photos in traditional Saudi headdresses and fans in the bleachers held aloft cardboard cutouts of the Kingdom’s ruling monarchs. But back in Italy, state broadcaster RAI’s journalists union accused Italy’s elite Serie A league of helping gloss over Riyadh’s strict gender segregation laws, the brutal war in Yemen, and crackdowns on dissident voices – including the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The $8 million that Saudi Arabia is paying for the right to hold each of three Supercoppa games it is scheduled to host over the next five years constitutes “the price of silence in the face of bombs which have been massacring civilians in Yemen for four years, in the face of the enlistment of child soldiers, in the face of the brutal murder [of Khashoggi],” RAI’s journalist union said in a statement issued a couple of days before kickoff. Highlighting the presence of male-only sections in the stadium and the incarceration of women activists, RAI’s union’s accused those involved of being accomplices to delivering “un calcio ai diritti umani” (a kick against human rights).

Qatar Cuts Through Tension and Defenders to Beat Saudi Arabia

No.342964 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/sports/saudi-arabia-qatar-asian-cup.html

ABU DHABI — The message to the D.J. was short and to the point: no Arabic music.

That was the edict from the organizers of the Asian Cup match here on Thursday, an attempt to limit even the opportunity for a flash point in the first soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Qatar since the start of a bitter political feud nearly two years ago. The dispute, and the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, has so divided countries in the region that even the prematch music at the tournament is now viewed through that prism.

At other matches at the Asian Cup, the most important soccer event on the sprawling continent, the soundtrack has included music from the participating countries. That was not the case Thursday at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, where the sound system blasted western dance music in an effort to avoid even the risk of inflaming tensions between rival supporters.

In the case of Qatar, that support was limited to a Korean woman, a male student from China and band of Omanis who arrived during the second half after acquiring free tickets. Almost no Qatari fans have traveled to the tournament amid the blockade of the tiny emirate by a Saudi-led group of its neighbors, including the United Arab Emirates, that has made travel extremely difficult — and entry into the U.A.E. close to impossible.

In the end, in front of a stadium that was mostly empty — despite Saudi officials’ handing out free tickets and bussing in fans — Qatar was a comfortable 2-0 winner. The game was largely tension-free until Qatar’s exuberant on-field celebrations led to a minor skirmish with a despondent Saudi striker, one of few players from his team who did not head straight to the dressing room after the referee blew the final whistle.

Whatever Happened to the "Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia"?

No.342965 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/happened-seinfeld-saudi-arabia-1176137

Sadly it seems a great deal has changed for Albutairi too.

In an article published in October, The New York Times reported that he’d been arrested while working in Jordan in March — predating the Cannes announcement — and “handcuffed, blindfolded and put onto a plane for Saudi Arabia.”

Around the same time, Albutairi’s wife, the prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul — who was famously jailed in 2014 for 73 days after trying to drive her car into Saudi Arabia — was also seized, stopped while on the highway in the U.A.E. and put on a private jet to Saudi. She was imprisoned for several days, but in May was detained again, one of a number of female driving activists locked up in a wave of arrests.

News about Albutairi is scarce and contradictory, although The Hollywood Reporter understands Love Above the Law hasn’t moved since being announced last May (although it's still in development). His hugely popular Twitter and Instagram profiles have been deleted, with a source telling THR that this was "ordered" by Saudi authorities, as was him not talking to the media. Another source claimed that he was actually forced by authorities to divorce al-Hathloul, who – according to her sisters, writing recently in The New York Times — still remains in prison, despite the driving ban for women having being lifted in June.

Germany cuts Saudi arms exports by quarter in wake of Khashoggi scandal

No.342575 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://cnn.com/cnn/2019/01/17/europe/germany-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-scli-ger-intl/index.html

(CNN) The German government has announced that its arms exports fell by close to 23% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

In figures provided to CNN by the German Economy Ministry, total arms exports fell by 22.75% in 2018 from 6.24 billion euros ($7.10 billion) in the previous year to 4.82 billion euros ($5.49 billion). The downward trend in the country's arms exports has been witnessed every year since 2015, when Germany exported a record-breaking 7.86 billion euros.

A ministry spokesman cited Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in October 2018 to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul as a reason for the sharp decline.

"The Chancellor clarified to the federal government shortly after the discovery of the Khashoggi case that there was no longer grounding to sell arms to Saudi Arabia," he said in a statement provided to CNN.

The ministry confirmed that Germany had not changed its position regarding exports to Saudi Arabia in the intervening months, and noted that no sales had been made to the Middle Eastern nation in the fourth quarter of last year.

"There are currently no permits for arms exports to Saudi Arabia," the spokesman confirmed.


Speaking to members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in October, Merkel said: "I agree with all those who say, that the already limited arms exports (to Saudi Arabia) cannot take place in the current circumstances.

"There is an urgent need to clarify what happened -- we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account," she said regarding the Khashoggi case.

Trump Secretary Pompeo reaffirms alliance with Saudis against Shia Iran

No.340085 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.voanews.com/a/4741690.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mike-pompeo-saudi-arabia-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-iran-jamal-khashoggi/


The Qatar standoff

The ongoing dispute between Qatar and four of America's other close Arab partners will also feature in Pompeo's talks as it continues to be a major hindrance in a U.S.-led effort to unite the Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan in a military alliance to counter Iran.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began a boycott of Qatar in June 2017, alleging Qatar funds extremist groups and has too-cozy ties to Iran.
Qatar has long denied funding extremists, but Doha shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran that gives its citizens the highest per-capita income in the world. It restored diplomatic relations with Iran after the crisis erupted, marking a setback for Saudi Arabia, which views the Shiite power Iran as its main regional rival.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/world/middleeast/pompeo-saudi-arabia-mohammed-bin-salman.html

Mr. Pompeo has been traveling through the Arab world since leaving Washington on Jan. 7, and Saudi Arabia is the most important stop on the trip.

At each stop, Mr. Pompeo has talked about the importance of countering Iran, a country whose Shiite Muslim government is often at odds with the Sunni Muslim rulers of many nations in the region.

“We certainly talked about our effort to counter Iranian malign influence,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference at the airport before flying to Oman, his final stop.

Saudi Arabia is Iran’s main rival and an old American ally — as well as the United States’ biggest buyer of arms — though Prince Mohammed’s actions are roiling the region and unsettling the kingdom’s relationship with the United States.
8 posts omitted

Saudi-backed organization denounces countries for 'inciting' women to flee

No.340174 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-asylum/saudi-backed-organization-denounces-countries-for-inciting-women-to-flee-idUSKCN1P818Y

(Reuters) - An organization backed by Saudi Arabia accused several foreign countries of inciting young women to reject their families, the first public comments from Riyadh since a woman claiming domestic abuse was granted asylum in Canada over the weekend.

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) did not name 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who grabbed international attention after barricading herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room and appealing for help on Twitter to resist being sent back to her family, which denies any abuse.

But in a statement late on Sunday NSHR head Mufleh al-Qahtani accused unspecified countries and international organizations of pursuing political agendas and "pushing (women) ultimately to be lost and maybe to fall into the arms of brokers and human traffickers".

While NSHR says it is independent, the U.S. State Department describes it as “government-funded”.

Riyadh’s human rights record has been in the spotlight since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate in October. There has also been growing international criticism of the Saudi-led coalition’s air strikes in Yemen that have caused heavy civilian casualties including children.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Riyadh on Monday, said he spoke with Saudi leaders about Yemen, Khashoggi and other human rights issues.
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18 year old Saudi woman who left Islam and fled Saudi Arabia was granted asylum in Canada

No.339568 ViewReplyOriginalReport
https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/2558065002

A Saudi teenager fleeing alleged family abuse arrived in Canada Saturday as an asylum refugee after a harrowing journey in which she was almost forcibly deported back home while changing planes in Thailand.

Canadian FM Chrystia Freeland says the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees found that a Saudi woman fleeing alleged family abuse was in a dangerous situation and that Canada was glad to be able to act quickly and offer her refuge. (Jan. 12)
AP
A Saudi teenager fleeing alleged family abuse arrived in Canada Saturday as an asylum refugee after a harrowing journey in which she was almost forcibly deported back home while changing planes in Thailand.

At one point, 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun had barricaded herself in an airport hotel in Bangkok to avoid being taken by Thai authorities.

She stirred worldwide sympathy by tweeting about her plight during the week-long ordeal, prompting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to declare that she was fleeing alleged family abuse and was in a dangerous situation.

The teenage said she feared her family would kill her because she renounced Islam.
8 posts omitted