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Saudi Arabian Woman Jailed For Co-Ed Coffee Run

A 37-year-old American business woman working in Saudi Arabia just spent a rough night in jail after Saudi religious police arrested her for sitting with male colleagues in the "family section" of a Starbucks. A managing partner in a Saudi finance company, the woman who doesn't want to divulge her whole name for fear of retribution, accompanied her male colleagues to the coffee shop to use the Wi-Fi after the electricity in their building stopped working.

While in prison, she was strip searched, threatened, and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom's Mutaween police. Despite the brutal treatment, the woman has decided to stay in the country and strive to defy the strict enforcement of conservative Islam.

"If I want to make a difference I have to stick around. If I leave they win. I can't just surrender to the terrorist acts of these people."

Would you be as defiant and brave after an experience like that? Does this make you want to rent, Not Without My Daughter? Do you see validity in Saudis wanting to strongly defend their religious views?


Join The Conversation
Ginger Ginger 9 years
"the woman has decided to stay in the country and strive to defy the strict enforcement of conservative Islam." In that regard, she's a freakin' idiot. Having already been arrested once, mostly likely she'll get kicked out of the country next time. It will reflect badly on the company she works for, and change nothing in Saudi Arabia. They have no income tax in Saudi Arabia. The citizens don't pay for highways or public services, so they get no say in anything. It's not a democracy. The royal family makes the rules. The treatment in prison sounds inappropriate for the "crime", and that's a whole other issue But she was probably treated a little better and released sooner because she wasn't a Saudi citizen.
omilawd omilawd 9 years
Also, this is what really ticks me off: We want respect from the Middle East, yet we don't respect them at all. And THEN, we don't follow someone's culture, customs and laws and make a big freaking deal about it when we get in trouble. Not only are we being disrespectful, but we're putting them in a worse light than they're already in.
omilawd omilawd 9 years
It could have been a case of "she just didn't know," but no excuse. She's a managing partner for a Saudi company. You'd think she'd know about the culture and how the rules are enforced.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
AMEN PIPER!!!!! I feel the EXACT same way!
piper23 piper23 9 years
"When we visit other countries we should not be ignorant of their laws. If we break one and are punished, that is our fault" I couldn't agree more which is why if you come into this country illegally you should be punished. Period.
legalbeagle legalbeagle 9 years
Obviously you should abide by the laws of other countries but it doesnt matter if she was American or Saudi- she would be arrested either way. So I dont think she was being 'stupid'. It is outrageous that women cant sit in Starbucks without being arrested. They get acid thrown on their face for even looking at men in the eyes. Maybe some people believe that a woman has her 'place' in society and shouldnt be out of the kitchen but I am not one of them I dont think its ok for a government to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in their country. Thats why I believe in Democracy and live in the United States.
luvthebosox luvthebosox 9 years
This is a tough one. On the one hand I agree that you need to obey the laws of a country you are visiting, and that countries have the right to make laws as they see fit. However, on the other hand, the way women are treated there makes me sick. The very idea that a woman can be punished because she was raped makes me so angry. There is very wide, gray line between right and wrong and so much of that is culturally determined. I have to admire her for standing up for herself, but I don't know if an American woman's defiance is the right impetus for change there. I am all for civil disobediance, but I think it has to come from within Saudi Arabia.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Besides, I am not about cultural relativism...esp concerning our comments on this site...just saying to be respectful when disagreeing as you could be (and are) offending some of the readers. I was merely trying to show that there ARE similarities between the way some of our laws were formed and some of the laws in Saudi Arabia. K?
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I agree lilkimbo, but a person should be aware of the laws of a country they are visiting, and also research how strict the laws of that country are enforced--if they don't feel comfortable with obeying the laws or disagree, don't go. I would say as long as there isn't something like the Holocaust taking place, or mass murders, etc, we should be respectful? And if not of the country/religion, than of the people that live in those countries/practice those religions? Most of the time a democracy to decide those laws is not in place as it is in the U.S. The resident of those countries are okay with the laws they have been abiding, and their ancestors hafe been abiding. Who are you or I to say that they are wrong IF something like the Holocaust is not taking place?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Wow, the cultural relativism on this site astounds me right now. This law in particular is not a huge deal and she should have followed it, but I think it's ridiculous to say that it's OK for other countries just to have any laws they wish and that we should abide by them. Remember, the Holocaust was legal in Germany, as were the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. Complete cultural relativism is one of the most ridiculous concepts I've ever heard.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I have 2 things to say. 1) When we visit other countries we should not be ignorant of their laws. If we break one and are punished, that is our fault and 2) Their laws aren't anymore stupid than ours our. They base their laws off of their basic and fundamental religious views. Wake up did America. One of the 10 commandments says "Thall shalt not kill" and we say murder is illegal. Just be respectful. also, please remember that members of all religions read this site; be careful not to hurt their feelings, as you wouldn't want your hurt.
-Maryan- -Maryan- 9 years
I agree with CatepillarGirl! You just have to follow the law. I've been there (Saudi Arabia) and it was hard, but still I didn't do anything "stupid"...
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
She did face the consequences. There is absolutely bravery in defying unjust rules in attempt to change them. Was Rosa Parks stupid? MLK? Ghandi? The Boston Tea Party peeps? Come on. Civil disobedience has a long and glorious history. More power to her.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
Good question, Piper.
piper23 piper23 9 years
So what did they do to the man that she had coffee with? Was he strip searched too?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Okay when you are in a country like that, no matter how sexist and ridiculous you think the laws and rules are you must abide by them or face the consequences. This woman isnt brave she was stupid.
kgtg1 kgtg1 9 years
I don't see why she is fighting this. She broke the law. I mean, I obviously think the law ridiculous and sexist, but they have the right to have their own laws. We wouldn't let a foreigner come to America and abide by the rules of THEIR country, no matter what OUR laws are.
brdwaystarlett brdwaystarlett 9 years
To be completely fair, if they want to uphold their religious regime, it's their cultural right. HOWEVER, that is not to say that imposing such theocratic tyranny on outsiders is just, nor is the manner in which they enforce their laws. As Westerners, it is difficult to be culturally sensitive to their convictions. It's a hard case to call and has been for a thousand years. Nevertheless, the extremes to which they enforce their laws and validate what is essentially torture via their religious beliefs is above and beyond the call of duty.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
That's just ridiculous! How did having coffee with a man warrant a strip search and jail? Gotta keep the women scared I guess. Don't want them raising up and protesting the ridiculous laws.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
I don't even understand how people still live like this!
x_juicyfruit x_juicyfruit 9 years
I agree, Bookish.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
What a brave woman. Her actions and attitudes just highlight how insane her surroundings are.
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
wow... this is a perfect example of waisting time on silly things.
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