On June 26, 2010, at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC, Muslim women, Muslim men, and other supporters of human rights called for women’s rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Specifically, the Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV). led by DC chapter activist Fatima Thompson, sought to protest the male guardianship program, and the conditions of gender apartheid for women in Saudi Arabia, while Saudi King Abdulaziz was attending the G20 summit in Canada. The Washington Times also reported on the plans for the protest in their June 25 article, “Women’s rights supporters to protest outside Saudi mission.”
A Canadian woman, Nathalie Morin, has been held against her will in Saudi Arabia, by her common-law husband since 2005. Nathalie Morin has been a victim of conjugal violence, confinement and abuse, and activist had photographs of the abuse of Nathalie Morin and her children. The Canadian National Post reported on the plight of Nathalie Morin and the efforts of Canadian political leaders in seeking to help her in a report: “Help sought for Canadian family in Saudi Arabia.” According to the National Post, Nathalie Morin’s common-law husband Samir Said Ramthi Al Bishi, “met with Canadian officials in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 22, at which time he demanded $300,000 in exchange for the release of Ms. Morin and the children.”
At the June 26, 2010 protest, Muslim women and men, as well as other human rights activists, condemned the mistreatment of Nathalie Morin demanding that she and her children, and other similarly detained were allowed to return to their home countries for safety. The MPV protest statement sought to “declare to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Government that Americans are demanding Nathalie Morin and her children, as well as any foreign nationals held captive, be returned to their countries immediately, that they respect the human rights of women and children and ensure the safety of Nathalie Morin and the safety of her children.”
The leader of the protest, Fatima Thompson spoke to television media on the subject, and a Saudi woman gave an interview on the story in Arabic. When additional reports are available, this blog posting will be updated.
Protesters marched around the Saudi Arabian Embassy and chanted “Free Nathalie Morin,” “No Guardian for Mature Women,” “End Gender Apartheid,” and “Saudi Arabia Keep Your Promises.”
Protesters were showing their signs and chanting to individuals entering the Saudi embassy. One Saudi Arabian embassy employee came out with a camera to take the photographs of the protesters.
Protesters also showed their signs to drivers going past the area, near the John F. Kennedy Center. Some drivers saw the protesters and stopped to give a “thumbs up” in support of their efforts.
Several Muslim men came and joined the protest at the Saudi Arabian embassy, and marched together with Muslim women and rights activists in support of Nathalie Morin and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
One man joined the protest whose family came from an African nation as workers and had lived in Saudi Arabia for two generations without gaining citizenship.
Fatima Thompson was speaking to Muslim men on the plight of Saudi women as they passed by the protest group, seeking their support for women’s rights.
Some protesters also distributed a fliers with a report:
— “UN: Saudi Arabia Pledges End of Men’s Control Over Women”
Protesters sought to urge the Saudi Arabian government to be responsible for its pledges for women’s rights.
The protesters also included Jeffrey Imm from the volunteer human rights group Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.), whose group plans an event at the White House on women’s rights and religious freedom on Tuesday, June 29 at 12 Noon (see also Adobe Acrobat PDF flier).
Update: June 28 – 9 PM – The Gulf Institute has changed the time of their event on June 29 White House and moved it also to 12 Noon as well. I am certain we will coordinate efforts.
[Additional photographs at Online photo gallery of photographs of June 26 protest taken by Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)]
Press Release from Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV)
PROTEST – Nathalie Morin and Gender Apartheid – Saturday June 26, 2010 at 1:30pm
Saturday June 26th, 2010, 1:30 pm in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20037
To denounce the confinement of Nathalie Morin and her children, and foreign nationals, in Saudi Arabia
Canadian, Nathalie Morin who is 26 years old, along with her three small children, has been held against her will in Saudi Arabia by her common-law husband since 2005. A victim of conjugal violence, confinement and abuse, Nathalie must return to Canada with her children. But in Saudi Arabia a woman must have the authorization of her male guardian to leave the territory and her aggressor will not allow this.
Gender apartheid and the male guardianship system of Saudi Arabia is a violation of women’s human rights and international law. As long as the U.S. and Saudi governments consider Nathalie and her children’s case a private affair, they will not deploy all efforts to ensure their safety and bring them home to Canada. During this time, Nathalie’s condition continues to deteriorate as the abuse worsens.
On June 26th and 27th, representatives of the Saudi government will participate in the G-20 summit in Toronto to discuss the economy. In June 2009 Obama stated in his speech in Cairo: «But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.
These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.» We call on President Obama to defend human rights by demanding that any foreign nationals held captive in Saudi Arabia be allowed to exit the country.
This protest is to declare to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Government that Americans are demanding Nathalie Morin and her children, as well as any foreign nationals held captive, be returned to their countries immediately, that they respect the human rights of women and children and ensure the safety of Nathalie Morin and the safety of her children.
Location: 601 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20037
We will not abandon Nathalie and her children to an undeserved fate
Information: www.nathaliemorin.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Information for MPV:
Ani Zonneveld – MPV-USA (national organization) email@example.com 323-842-2869
Fatima Thompson – MPV-DC (local chapter) firstname.lastname@example.org 703-901-0720