It is Official! I am Now a Political Refugee In Italy

It was back in 2013 when I decided to seek asylum in Mainland China. Yes, I know mainland China is not exactly a ” pro human rights ” country but I had no other choice. I was studying and living in China at that time. I heard the news by friends who are still in Saudi that the Saudi Arabian intelligence police are starting a campaign against activists and bloggers accusing them of apostasy and terrorism to justify long prison or death sentences .  Many have been arrested with no charges or trials too! some were banned from traveling outside Saudi Arabia.. and some tried to escape and failed like Hamaza Khasghari and some made it and escaped just like me!

This Anti-activists campaign  comes as no surprise to everyone after the Arab spring, As  Saudi Arabia knew that this political chaos is sooner or later going to hit Saudi. At first, it started with high profile activists like Raif Badawi and Waleed Abukhair and Shia rebels who were protesting  in Eastern province where majority of Shiite minority lives. Then this campaign extended further more to include some other activists and  Sunni religious figures who are anti Al Saud regime.

It is difficult to tell how many have been arrested or killed since this campaign started!  many who were imprisoned did not want to make their arrest go public, as they fear that publicity will negatively affect their trial like it did with other activists before them.

One of them is a friend of mine, A.H.S whom I asked him to join me in China before its too late. Unfortunately, it was too late for him.  He was arrested and charged with apostasy. He was released not so long ago after he appealed but he is still banned from traveling out of Saudi Arabia.

Seeing the news of continuous arbitrary detention of  Saudi activists was upsetting, but what is even more upsetting was this international ” silence” that is bought by the  Saudi black gold.

All this made me reckon that staying in Saudi as an activist wouldn’t be a good idea. Thats when I decided seek asylum in China.

Not knowing how things work, I first went to the Norwegian embassy which advised me to go to UNHCR– Beijing.   I was given an appointment in 2014.  Then it took another year of intensive investigation  and extremely long very tiring and emotional interviews   before the committee of UNHCR come to their final decision which was in May 2015.

I will never forget the phone call when the a member of the UNHCR told me that my request of international protection has been approved by the committee. I was in shock, I remember I  cried and smiled at the same time upon receiving the news through the phone.

Maybe it was a combination of sadness and happiness.. knowing that this is it, a one way ticket to freedom and the no return point. I will be gaining freedom but losing family, friends and a lot more.  I must admit,  It is a very difficult compromise . I still recall Manal Al Sharif warning me saying ”Omaima, don’t burn the bridges behind you, you might want to go back”.

There were difficult times in which I had feelings of regret, self-pity and nostalgia.  For instance, the time I had a car accident in China in  April 2016 and I was  alone with an injured spinal cord. Another time when I had legal issues in Norway when I was trying to transfer my UNHCR refugee status to Norway and it didn’t work. Then when I was brought by police force to Italy and sent to a former prison that was transformed into a illegal refugee reception center! yes, Ironically My UNHCR refugee status was meaningless and useless that is  what I found out later.  Maybe I will write about those horrible experiences that I had to go through in another post.

I had to  go through the suffering again  and repeat the process in Italy, I had to go through everything from zero as if I have not done it before.  I came to Italy in the summer of 2016. and  received the news on the 10th of Nov 2017. It  took  about 15 very  long months.

As you might all know, Europe is going through refugee crisis. However, Italy along with Greece deal with the crisis the most because of the high influx of migrants coming by the sea from the Libyan shores. Italy is one of the worst countries to be refugee in. I must say being a refugee here is not a walk in the park. It takes a high threshold of patience to be able to endure all this suffering I have been through.  So Saudi activists out there be warned, the price of freedom is high. Sadly, pain, loneliness and hardship is part of it. I will be writing a post about My journey  as asylum seeker sometime in the future.

I writing this post to just happily announce that finally this very long and bitter struggle is over and My journey  has came to an end. Now with this political refugee status I can obtain a refugee travel document and legal papers that allow me to stay in Italy, travel abroad and have a normal life.

 

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The Long Journey to Freedom

Dear Readers,

I know I have not been blogging for a while now, that is because I have been on the road looking for a country to settle in.

I obtained a refugee status (international protection) from The United Nation Office in China and went to Norway. Unfortunately and I must say unexpectedly, Norway has rejected to take my case and deported me out!

Yes, shocking isn’t?

 Hence, I am now on the road again looking for place to settle.

I am hoping that soon I will be blogging again to write about my never ending journey to freedom.

 

Love!

Omaima

What is it like to be a Saudi Woman?

 

Those who have lived in Saudi Arabia know that the majority of Men especially Bedouins are very rude towards women; they disrespect women and consider women inferior. This attitude towards women has been going on since the pre-Islamic period. Islam religion was supposed to improve the social status for women particularly in the Arabian Peninsula, because back then women were treated as objects and slaves. But it seems that Saudi men can’t get along with the Islamic rules, they can’t accept the fact that women are just like men. They always interpreted the religion as men are superior and women should follow them and obey them as they are guardians.

 

There is this sentence in the Arabic language when a man mention things that are considered culturally inferior such as shoes or dirty places AND women says ” waanta be karama” which means sorry for using an offensive term. The offensive terms include women or their names.

 

 Most Bedouins prefer having a baby boy rather than a baby girl, they believe it’s honorable to have males in the family that carries out the family name and pass it to the other generation. The killing of baby girls was very common in the pre-Islamic period. However, Islam religion stopped the act of killing baby girls and it has a clear message in the Quran about that matter.

 

 Some Bedouins use to name their daughters very offensive names such as towel and monster, until the government just few years ago took an action and forced parents to change the offensive name of their daughters. I remember one of my teachers called camel and one of my classmates were called a very offensive sexual term that I can’t even write it. Isn’t this so cruel and sick?!!!  Its really bad that they they government action took so long.

 

 

Saudi women are not allowed to get an education, health insurance, job or travel without a guardian’s approval. There is consent that must be signed by the guardian before a woman can do anything. A guardian is the male in the family; he can be her son or 75 year old father, an uncle, brother or whoever male in the family that makes a decision for his daughter, mother or sister. That man can be ignorant and not aware of anything at all and the woman can be highly educated, intelligent and yet consider inferior compared to75 illiterate old man because she is a female. I know many girls who are at home because their guardians won’t let them get a higher education or a job. A lot of Saudi men don’t want women to compete with them and don’t believe that women should get an education or a job, they believe that the  woman should marry and serve her husband and have alot of children instead.

 

 

Saudi Arabia is the only country that considers ” female driving” a felony. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive cars. Instead, they have to beg their brothers or fathers to get them to wherever they want.

 For Women like myself who are living alone with no male in their family around need to hire a male driver. It’s so not fair because it costs a fortune to get the visa for the driver and then I must pay him a monthly salary furthermore provide him with a room and food. In addition I have to buy a car, that I will never drive myself and pay for the gas as well considering that it will be doubled, for the reason that the driver is going drop me off in school then will turn back home and then get back later to pick me up, when I can just save all that energy and money if I was driving my own car. Imagine how much money Saudi women spends on getting drivers of their own.

 

Since I can’t afford this I stop a taxi car every time I have to go anywhere, If I was lucky, I’ll just wait for about 10 minutes before the taxi stops. However, sometimes I wait for a lot longer in very hot weather conditions like 45 degrees or so. A lot of times I deal with sexual harassment or spanking.. Etc. Sometimes its from Saudi guys who happened to pass by while I was standing waiting for a taxi cap or from the taxi driver himself. You can imagine what a single Saudi woman have to go through just to buy a bottle or water from the mini market.

What pisses me off the most is when I find a very young boys at the age of 10 -13 driving cars and don’t get tickets for it because its very ordinary and common here in Saudi.

 

 

What makes that Pilipino, Indian or Pakistani driver better than me??!

 

Why its okay when a 12 year old Saudi boy with no license to drive a car and it’s a felony when 40 year old Saudi woman with international license drives the car?

This video is showing Wajiha Al Huaider speaking about Saudi Women right.

Baby Bride

Alwatan newspaper – Yaman

a 13 yeard old Yamani girl died 3 days  after her wedding due to sever internal bleeding following intercourse. The poor girl Elham Mahdi Alassi was forced to marry a 24 year old man who admited taking Sexual Tonic medication. The girl was forced to marry the man so her brother can marry the man’s sister.  Sadly, this 13 year old Yameni child bride isn’t the first to die this way. In September, a 12 year-old Yameni girl forced into marriage died during childbirth. Her baby died as well.

Riyadh Newspaper – Saudi Arabia

 A 65 year old man  suffering from Heptitis B was applying for a marriage health certificate  to marry an 11 year old Saudi girl. The hospital staff were shocked by the father’s enthusiasm to finish the paper work so he can go a head with his 11 yeard old daughter’s wedding!

 

http://www.alriyadh.com/2010/04/11/article515317.html

This is really shocking news!

It seems that the father is forcing his child to marry perhabs his old friend or something.

Unfortunatlly, there is no law to protect young Muslim girls in Saudi and Yaman. Its common but no human rights orgs nor child protection servicess were able to stop it.

 

This video showes a religous Muslim  man ( shaikh) allowing to Marry a Girl at the Age of One!