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.”

View full post…

Read More 2 Comments

Education for Tolerance: A Ray of Hope in a Troubled Region

The enclose piece  is the fruit of collaborative work with two dear colleagues, an Israeli (David Oman)  and a Kuwaiti (Khaled AlJenfawi) who are both involved with an NGO where I serve as a board member. It deals with an important key for peace in the region,  namely the issue of  education for peace and tolerance toward the “other”.

“Europe’s soul is tolerance,” said Angela Merkel at the official ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. “Our history,” she added, “obliges us in Europe to promote tolerance throughout Europe and across the globe and to help everyone practice it.” Merkel is not alone. Other European leaders often speak of the value of tolerance that indeed appears to be the bon-ton of Europe. But to what extent is it manifested in policy?

View full post…

Read More 1 Comment

Les promesses saoudiennes

Source Washington Times (États-Unis)
Référence « Saudi promises », par Nir Boms et Erick Stakelbeck, Washington Times, 21 avril 2004.

Auteurs Nir Boms, Erick Stakelbeck

Résumé Sous les Auspices de l’ONU et du National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, des représentants de 14 pays musulmans se sont rencontrés à Istanbul du 12 au 14 avril pour discuter des réformes démocratiques au Proche-Orient. Sans surprise, l’Iran et la Syrie ont boycotté la réunion, mais l’Arabie saoudite non plus n’est pas venue en dépit de son alliance avec les États-Unis et des déclarations de l’administration Bush sur le sérieux des efforts de réformes dans le royaume.

View full post…

Read More Leave comment

Promoting Human Rights

Article published Mar 7, 2008

By Nir Boms

An important, yet underreported, summit took place recently in Riyadh. Turki K. Al Sudairy, a Saudi minister and president of the Saudi Supreme Human Rights Commission and Pakistan’s federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney, conducted a series of high level meetings to discuss human rights in their respective countries.

According to a Pakistani News agency, the ministers, who also represent two member-states in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, discussed human trafficking, slavery, women’s issues and other human rights topics at length.. After a series of meetings, pleasantries, and several fancy dinners, they even agreed to work together to improve a few human rights issues in the region. View full post…

Read More Leave comment