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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Saudi Woman Converts to Christianity

A 28 year-old Saudi woman has decided to become Christian after she was convinced by Lebanese coworker to join the Christian religion. Saudi woman who is named Mariam left Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese Coworker along with Saudi man Helped Mariam to go to Bahrain then to Lebanon. The family of the girl is now suing the 2 guys in Saudi Arabia accusing them of misleading and deceiving their daughter.

Mariam appeared in video on youtube religious channel called   talking about how god showed her that Christianity is the right religion in her dreams. She says” I have asked god to show me the truth in my dreams and within a week  god showed me that Jesus is his son , if you are uncertain about your religion, if you feel lost, ask god to guide you and he will”

The above video shows Mariam talking to guy who was also Muslim and converted to Christianity. The video is in Arabic with no English subtitles.

Saudi twitter users have created 2 hashtags to talk about it  ‎#لبناني_ينصر_فتاة_سعودية‏ ‎#مريم_السعودية

Saudi people seems to be very angry and blaming that mix working environment, meaning both men and women working at the same place was the reason why she became christian and some has blamed it on her parents for not rising her well. Other people have accused her of being Shiite.  Some Saudis wrote in twitter that they want the Saudi gov to drag her back to Saudi Arabia and charge her with crime of apostasy. Yes, choosing a different religion that is not Islam is considered a crime in Saudi Arabia, and if a person proven that  she or he has left Islam, she/ or he will be facing death plenty after giving three chances to return back to Islam.

If Mariam brought back by the Saudi government, she will be charged for apostasy, and she will be given 3 chances to return to Islam, if she didn’t she will face death plenty,  in other term ” beheading”.

Mariam is not the first Saudi woman who converted to Christianity, Fatima Al Mutairi is believed to be murdered by her religious Muslim brother. It is believed that her brother has burnt her alive. I personally has read some of what she wrote back in 2008 in religious christian website, Fatima has never left Saudi Arabia. She was murdered by her brother. The Lebanese christian channels and website are the only one who reacted when they found out she was murdered. Very few Saudis know about Fatima Al Mutairi.  The website where Fatimah use to write is blocked. Unfortunately I lost the link but you can google the story of Fatimah.

Saudi online newspaper http://www.news-sa.com/snews/4780-2012-07-25-07-21-40.html

I am very sure now after I publish this post Saudis will accuse me of encouraging people to convert to Christianity or would say I’m not a muslim. Just so you know I’m Muslim, but I don’t hate other people just because they read from different book.

”My choice is what i chose to do;
and if I’m causin no harm,
it shouldn’t bother you.
Your choice is who you chose to be;
and if your causin to harm, then your alright with me.”

Ben Harper

Saudi men are embarrassed of their mother’s name

Saudi men believe that their mother’s name is scandalous and shameful and shouldn’t be mentioned in public. Reaction is a Saudi show views how saudi men reacted when they were asked about their mother’s name. Some refused to say their mother’s name on TV saysing ” I’m not crazy to do so” and others chose to say a nickname such as ” Mother of Mohammad, Mother of Abdullah.. etc..”.  Very few men were okay with it.

The video is in Arabic. I couldn’t find a version with English subtitles but you will be hearing mostly

Wish issm Ommk? Or  Whish issm Al Walda? = Whats your mother’s name?

Omaima Al Najjar being investigated by the religious police

 

Two undercover Muttwas caught me yesterday in Rabwa area  in exit 14 in Riyadh city for doing a deal with a foreign man. The religious police were very happy to  caught a lady that is not covering her face with unrelated man, they were so happy that they let the man who I was doing the deal with go and they parked their cars in away that it would obstruct the road so I won’t be able to escape.

Anyways, they Muttwas asked the  Saudi taxi driver in a very serious voice tone to leave the car. The taxi driver who drove me to Rabwa area was so scared that he got out of the car immediately while I was still sitting in the back seat. One Muttwa held the driver so he won’t try to runaway. Few seconds later, I saw the other Muttwa approaching me, he was walking to the car where I was in so I opened the window to talk to him.

The Muttwa: what were you doing with the guy in the ford?

Omaima: I was buying a thing from the internet called online shopping..!! and I am here to get the product and pay him the money .

The Muttwa: I am not a fool, I am going to call for back up from the religious police.

Omaima: Whatever..

The Muttwa: why are not covering your face, aren’t you a Saudi woman?

Omaima: Yes I’m Saudi.

The Muttwa: where are you from?

Omaima: Eastern region.

mean while there was also another Muttwa ( from the religious police) investgating with the taxi driver.

It didn’t take time for the back up  religious police to get to the location. 2 other Muttwas came with their black jeep car and they both got in the car and started asking me questions like  are you Shiite?? do you believe in god? are you muslim??

it was really awkward!! I never thought that I look like atheist!! lol!!

The Muttwa  asked me what happened and when I told him that it was a deal he said ” how can you prove that it was just a deal? ”

I said you can ask the taxi driver he heard me talking to the man on the phone and I’ll call the man who I made the deal with to come and speak with you. Then ,he asked me to call the man and put it on speaker so he would hear how the man would talk with me. I said ” alright”.

I called the man and ..

Omaima:  Salam Mr. B

Mr. B: sounded like he was surprised that I called after an hour, walikum alslam.. whats wrong sister? you didn’t like the product??

Omaima: No, it’s not about the product. I am with the religious Police and they are investigating with me for talking to you, they think that the deal we had is more than just a product. They asked me to prove that I’m innocent and I told him that perhaps you can tell them that we had nothing  going on between the 2 of us.

Mr. B: Sure, I’m coming now sister.

Man you can tell that the Muttwas were very disappointed when the man kept calling me sister…!!!!!!!! lol

It was strong proof that I was buying the product from him when he was the first  to talk about it saying: ” whats wrong, you didn’t like the product?”

So I told the Muttwa .. see I told you… now I am going to sue your mates of  wasting 2 hours of my precious short life and for  committing Qathf.

In Islamic Shariah law if you launch an outrageous accusation like prostitution or having sex for money   and then the accused woman or man  prosecutes you in courts and you didn’t prove that accusation then you’ll be sentenced to 80 lashes (the punishment of committing Qathf).

I was literally threatening the religious police . Then, I demanded apology for the driver and for me.  they had apologized to us and told me to call the man ( whom I was making the deal with) back  and tell him things are alright now and that he don’t have to come.

Although it was cold yesterday, yet I was sweating because I was really angry!!!

There was a point when the religious police and I were just yelling at each other and non of us listening to what the other party has to say. Things got really out of control but when I told them I’m going to sue them since they don’t have proof other than seeing me exchanging money in the street with unrelated man and yet they are insisting that it was more than that, they started to back up. I went to school today and told my friends about it and they were very shocked that I went to Rabwa area, they said that the main building for the religious police is located right there and this area is full of Muttwas and I should have chosen other areas!!!!

Honestly, I didn’t know that this area is full of Muttwas but now I know, I will never go there again.

Later on I asked the driver what kind of questions did they started asking him and my mouth dropped to the floor when he told me they were asking questions like..  ” does she ask you to take her to weird places where unusual things happen?”

”have you ever noticed anything on the way she talks or dress that may indicate that she is not a good girl?”

”does she pay you money to take her to work?” . .. ” is she married?” ” have she ever tried to approach you?” .. etc..

Basically, they wanted the driver to say anything bad about that would be enough for them to take me away and charge me of committing prostitution or something, specially that they saw me exchanging money with the man,isn’t this outrageous??!!!!!!

When I was 20 years old, I have had a similar ethical issues with 2 men belong to rich and well-known family  and I went to the court alone and sued their A**es and I won the case. That tought me a lot on how to confront sheikhs and how to speak up for myself. Sometimes I feel frustrated on how hard it is to do the simplest thing that would probably be normal if I was living somewhere ales. Yet, I feel happy living independently and solving my problems on my own knowing that not a lot of Saudi single girls lives away from their parents.

A Saudi groom slapped by his mother in his wedding night

Saudi couple decided do a  romantic Cinderella wedding theme in their wedding party. There is this part of the ceremony when the bride walks like Cinderella style wearing only one shoe and the groom who  is supposed to be the prince gets down on bended knees to put the other shoe on . It’s not common in Saudi to see a man on bended knees in front of a woman, at least not in public. In Saudi culture, men are considered superior and bending the knees is regard as the ultimate humiliation. The husband didn’t tell his family about the part when he is going to be down on bended knees. Anyways, During the wedding ceremony the groom and bride surprised everyone with their surprising  Cinderella wedding theme. However, The idea of being on bended knees in front of his wife didn’t impress his mother, She was so shocked that he did such a thing in front of everyone and she thought it was very insulting.

The groom’s mother got really angry and slapped her son in the face and started swearing at him for humiliating himself in presence of everyone . Right after getting slapped in the  face, the groom took his wife  and travelled to Malaysia  for the honey moon.

Now that’s what I call the ultimate humiliation :D.

 when I read about it online on Okaz news paper to see people’s comments I was very shocked myself that almost  95% of the comments were like ” he deserved to be hit and slapped in the face for doing that”. Saudi people are supporting the groom’s mother and believe that  puting the shoe on the bride’s foot is too humiliating to be romantic!

The source:

http://www.okaz.com.sa/new/Issues/20100805/Con20100805365609.htm

Gender segregation and homosexuality

Saudi researches came up with a very interesting research a question aiming to see the most common reason of being expelled from school among young male students. When I first read it I immediately  thought of boys stuff like domination and power. I assumed that the result will be bullying or  hitting other classmates. However, the result was shockingly different, researches found that its sexual harassment or engaging in inappropriate sexual activities  with other male student!!! 

The researches themselves were very shocked too, they even suggested that gender segregation raises the tendency of homosexuality and recommended  to start making co-educational system among elementary students in order to control the phenomena of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. They believe that students at the age of elementary school start developing  the sexual tendency, so a healthy enviroment for children to have a normal sexual development would be a mix school for young children (males and females) at the age of 7 to 13 years old. 

you can’t imagine the aggressiveness of people’s reaction towards co-education school suggestion. They chose to ignore the tendency of homosexuality and critique the researches suggestion, although homosexuality is not accepted in Islam religion and there is a clear verse in Quran critique homosexuality while there is nothing in religion proves that mixing is a taboo or unaccepted behavior. 

 Saudi conservative culture is very strict when it comes to gender stuff, if you go to mosques, restaurants, coffee shops, malls or even some parks you would see that there is always female area or a ladies day only or even family area where single men are not allowed. 

Not a lot of people speak about sex in Saudi Arabia since it is a taboo topic. Those who dare to talk about it would be looked at as disrespectful, rude and ” westernized”! 

the term westernized is used when  person suggests things that is against the traditional tribal culture. 

Homosexuality has become a phenomena in Saudi Arabia. When I go to ” ladies day ” park I see a lot of ” He-female” girls! 

I am talking about girls with a very short hair cuts wearing men cloths & men accessories putting their arms around a beautiful girl-friend. Those kind of girls called ” Boya” which is slang ” westernized” Arabic referrers to ” he-female” or lesbian girls that looks like men and have a male nickname! 

I have  also seen a lot of videos of famous ” she-male” Saudis  on you tube and I have read a lot of positive comments from male audince  like ” wow that was sexy”  or ”he is sooo beautiful and attractive”. On the other hand, some people would write negative comments calling other audiences perverts! But I have to say that the majority of the comments that I read were positive. one of the videos shows of a famous  ” she-male” dude named Hashoomy dancing with young men in what it seems a gay party or something. those videos are blocked now but I got some pictures of 2 famous ” she male” dudes, one is named Hashomy Al Rashed and they other is called Mishary and his she male nick name is Al Jazi. 

Some people who are against co-education wrote comments in the newspaper saying that all western countries who applies coeducational system have a lot of gays and lesbians. Others believe that co-education school is just as bad as homosexuality. 

Althought the penalty of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia is death, yet it’s becoming very popular and a lot of homosexual people don’t have problem with showing their homosexuality by  the way the dress. 

Meshary or Al Jazi

Meshary or Al Jazi

 

Meshary or Al Jazi
Hashoomy Al Rashed

Hashoomy Al Rashed

 

Hashoomy Al Rashed

Hashoomy Al Rashed

Meshary or Al Jazi

Meshary or Al Jazi