In a recent article titled "Leave the Wretched East" in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai, Nadine Al-Budair, a Saudi journalist and women's rights activist who lives in Dubai, formerly a presenter on the Arabic-language American television channel Alhurra, urged the women of the Arab Mashraq (the Arab countries of the eastern Mediterranean basin) to leave their homelands that oppress them and deny their rights. Al-Budair spared no criticism from the society of the Arab east, stating that ISIS is a natural product of this society, which is rife with violence and extremism and tends to spurn the other and accuse him of heresy. She warned women that, in countries that humiliate them, subordinate them to men, exclude them from politics and force them to wear the veil, it is no surprise that women end up being sold in ISIS's slave markets. Hence, they should leave these countries "before it is too late," for there is no light at the end of the tunnel and the region has no future.
Al-Budair has written many bold articles in favor of women's right, including two pieces published in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm. One called to take advantage of the Arab Spring to free women from the veil, and the other condemned the Muslim practice of polygamy, asking why women should not be allowed to marry four men.
The following are excerpts from Al-Budair's recent article:
Nadine Al-Budair (image: Alraimedia.com)
"Hellish days are nothing new for you. The darkness of prison and the lash of the hangman are carved deep into your wrists and your body. How many times have you 'repented before Allah' for a sin you never knew [you had committed], and prayed in the darkness of night for an angel to take you and place you in some [other] country that would respect you? But the strings of fate encircle your slim waist and keep you firmly chained to the destiny of the oppressed.
"And what is new today? You are displayed on the block at the slave markets. What did we expect, we women of the Arab Mashraq? To have garlands thrown around our necks? To have statues of women writers set up in the squares of Arab treason? What did we expect, if not this fate? All the signs pointed towards this end. The slave market is the ideal final [destination] of this ancient path of denied equality...
"Everyone is cursing ISIS, as though it is not part of our reactionary identity, as though it is the sole criminal and defendant and has no accomplices... [But] the blood and destruction have shown us that the violence is rooted [deep] in the hearts, and has many names behind which our barbarity hides: wasatiyya ["the middle road"], fundamentalism, Sahwajiyya [affiliation with the Sahwat, tribal forces that fight extremist Islamist organizations], Salafiyya, jihadiyya, Houthiyya.
"The conspiracy did not appear out of nowhere, it grew out of our symbols and emblems, our sweeping desire to accuse others of heresy, to be arrogant and supremacist and claim Paradise as ours alone. ISIS has made us smaller. Iranian, American and Israeli elementsÔÇª have cultivated it with devotion. Arab governments form coalitions to fight ISIS, while thousands of ISIS [clones] grow in their own corridors.
"In a reality where one liberal is jailed for conversing with Allah, another for condemning the rule of the clerics, and a third for creating art which the sheikhs of wretchedness failed to understand and therefore accused him of heresy... [a reality where] Arab regimes remain silent in the face of the inquisition courts, and the public rejoices when art, media and creativity are prosecuted for teaching the youth to rebel; [a reality in which] society persecutes women, whether veiled or bareheaded, and there is no law to protect them; [a reality in which] a woman walking down the street in her homeland is cursed and humiliated because the way she is dressed does not conform to the ideals of one of the millions of perverts - [those] who force their sisters to wear a veil and then, at night, visit dens of prostitution; [a reality in which school] curricula call everyone who is different [from us] an infidel, and proclaim that the failure to wear the veil is heresy, that failing to obey one's husband is heresy, that [a woman] working [outside the home] is heresy, and that this is heresy and that is heresy; [a reality where] the state sees its women [citizens] as legally incompetent [beings] who are not responsible [for their affairs] and cannot marry, find employment or study without a man's permission... [where] the state places the fate of its daughters in the hands of men, or males, even if they are criminals, rapists and highway robbers; [where] the squares ring with the demand for equality, yet the state excludes women from politics and leaves [politics] to men, just because they are men; [where] no matter how much you search in the state's [media or educational] programs, you will not find any picture of a woman who is not standing in the kitchen or kneeling at the feet of her husband; [where] the daughters of the land are murdered and burned, yet the killer is exonerated because his crime was a so-called 'honor [killing]'; [where] the state does not shed a tear for a homeless four-year-old girl who goes begging in the night, selling flowers to drunks and revelers in front of a nightclub... [where] they rejected your right to self-determination, and [the state] gave its blessing to insulting your intelligence and curses equality - [in this reality] you wish to drive a car? First drive your own [destiny]. A state that has no room for my dream, my body, my mind and my ambitions, a state that does not weep - how can it be trusted? States that oppress their sons and trample their daughters - these are states that have never [really] been states, [but only] a kind of mirage, an [empty] slogan and a disaster waiting to happen.
"O corpse of a woman citizen, this has been the essence of your path in your great Arab homeland. So how can you be surprised to find your path ending in the slave markets? You were sold long ago. O daughter of the barren Arab Mashraq, what do you expect? This place has no future, it's all over. This is the era of Arab perdition and darkness. As for the light, it will shine only decades or centuries after you give up the ghost. So get out before it is too late, and do not shed a tear at the border. Get out!"
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5481, "Saudi Women's Rights Activist: The Arab Spring Is An Opportunity To Free Women Of The Hijab," October 16, 2013.
 Al-Rai (Kuwait), July 6, 2015.
 The reference here is apparently to the Islamic stream led by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi.