Punishing Saudis for Marrying Foreigners Is Absurd
Abeer Mishkhas, firstname.lastname@example.org
THERE ARE many ways of dealing with problems. Some require laws while others need only awareness, but in Saudi Arabia it seems the easiest way out is to ban the problem from happening. Needless to say, banning never works but it still remains our favorite solution.
Three years ago there was a campaign to dissuade Saudis from marrying non-Saudis. The campaign aimed at enlightening people about the negative aspects of going outside the Kingdomâ€™s borders and choosing a partner. The study deservedly earned the disdain of many at the time. It failed to solve anything that its proponents saw as problems nor did it reduce the number of Saudis who wanted to marry non-Saudis.
This week, I was shocked to see an interview with an official in a local paper. He was speaking about this very issue and the interview began with a denial that the numbers of Saudis marrying foreign women/men had reached â€œalarmingâ€ levels. The official stated that the ministry had put in place measures and guidelines to limit the â€œnegative and harmful aspects of such marriages.â€
The interviewer then asked what would be done if someone took the step of actually marrying a non-Saudi without taking official permission. Following are the measures:
* Disciplinary action against the Saudi;
* Not allowing the marriage to be registered as legal in the Kingdom;
* Not granting an entrance visa to the foreigner â€” either wife or husband â€” and if the wife or husband are already in the Kingdom, then their residency is terminated.
Heavy measures indeed! One would think that whoever was punished so harshly was a serious and hardened criminal. In truth, he or she is simply someone who tried to live his or her life within his or her rights as a human being.
Some years ago, facing the fact that for a variety of reasons—financial, cultural, religious, pure happenstance—Saudis were marrying foreigners in large numbers, the Saudi government reacted by prohibiting the marriage of Saudis to non-Saudis. It sure looked like an attempt to establish some sort of ‘racial purity’, an anathema to nearly all in the west. It clearly annoyed some Saudis, too, and not just because their own rights were being limited.
Abeer Mishkhas, writing in Arab News has this piece that makes her view of the matter perfectly clear. If you’d like to read a nice piece of justifiable anger, then click on the link and read the whole thing!