Sunday, 11 January 2009

Proud of my sister...


Dear Faisal,

I write to you, as you have covered the Saudi-British Youth Forum in your last article in the Arab News. My concern is with regards to the role news agencies in shaping public opinion. Please excuse me for not taking the regular root of praising your newspaper (although, I actually think it’s the best source of diverse news in Saudi today).

Okaz newspaper paper today, as you did, wrote an article on the Saudi-British Youth Forum which featured my younger sister(http://www.okaz.com.sa/okaz/osf/20090111/Con20090111251722.htm). Post the online publication of the article, an array of comments appeared from readers. The first said, “let her about covering her self up, and worry about her religion first” then second, made a sarcastic comment regarding her stance (at the forum) with the Palestinian people, and commented “and half an hour in from the forum, the Jews apologised and paid al diya on the souls of the dead Palestinians… “and he goes on. The rest of the comments from there were regarding why we are holding such a forum with the British. And how it’s there fault. And why are we debating with these people etc.. You get the gist. Some of the remarks are very anti-semetic too, but that a whole other story.

So I guess your wondering by now, why am I writing to you? when this whole episode happened at a different newspaper. And there is nothing new in what I just wrote, the general public have this attitude of scepticism towards the west during normal times, let alone when Israel is killing innocent civilians and the world watches.
You’ll be happy to know I am not writing regarding the scepticism or the anti Semitism, as I guess you’ve heard it all before! I write to you today because of how my sister (as a Saudi female), who cares so much about her country and her religion can be bombarded with such remarks. Earlier this year, she appeared again in a Saudi newspaper regarding a campaign she started regarding caring for our heritage sites. Soon after, my farther (who is a university lecturer and a level headed man) started to get hate messages (sms), and threats to. Some telling him, he has no shame and other on a similar note.

This is the part where you come in. Would it be possible for you to write an article, on this trend? These people discourage young Saudi women like my sister in doing the right thing and speaking up. Luckily, my sister is a very stubborn girl and she will continue doing the right thing, but sometimes she and the people around her are hurt in the process. I am very proud of my sister, and I applaud her! However, I also believe that the Saudi news agencies bare a responsibility in taming public opinion. In understanding that pluralistic ignorance is not the way of life nor did the prophet ever encourage such ignorance. Anyhow, I think you see where I am going with this..

I eagerly await your response.

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