Layla of Arabia

Dec. 14, 2009
NIR BOMS and NOAM IVRI , THE JERUSALEM POST

‘I am writing from the other side of the ocean to inform you that after my graduation I won’t be returning” wrote Saudi student Layla (a pseudonym) to her family, in a letter published in the Saudi newspaper Okaz.

“I’ve been freed from my apprehensions and dismays and enjoy being separated from the [Middle] Eastern man; do I surprise you with the audacity to stop keeping tribal customs?”

Her voice, the voice of a free woman in an adopted country, joins a growing group of brave Saudi women activists who dare to dissent against one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Layla describes her journey through literature that focused on a question seemingly trivial to readers on this side of the ocean: What value, if any, do I have in this world as a woman? Books banned in her native Saudi Arabia helped provide her with some answers. Al-Neehum, a Libyan exile and critic of Arab culture, was adopted to be Layla’s first teacher: “Equality between men and women is impossible in any society that doesn’t allow for equal earning opportunities,” he wrote. “Arab society adopts a predetermined system where the man’s earning power is independent of the woman, while a woman’s earning power is dependent on the man.”

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Middle Eastern Bloggers – Radio Panel Discussion (Radio Netherlands/VOA)

If their governments had their way, an Israeli, a Syrian and an Iranian wouldn’t be friends, but Nir T Boms, Ahed Al Hendi and Potkin Azarmehr are.

They are from the small but vocal community of bloggers risk imprisonment by communicating with each other and the world through their blogs – together they join Jonathan Groubert about the dangers faced by bloggers in the Middle East.

Listen

שמפניה איראנית: מיהו חוסיין דרחשאן?

לפני חודשיים נעצר הבלוגר האיראני המפורסם ביותר, שאף ביקר כאן, בחשד לריגול לטובת ישראל. השלטונות האיראניים לא מאשרים ולא מכחישים את דבר מאסרו. האם הוא לוחם חופש אמיתי או סוכן של השלטונות? מי אתה, חוסיין דרחשאן?

ניב ליליאן, ניר בומס

Continue reading “שמפניה איראנית: מיהו חוסיין דרחשאן?”