Liberal Saudi Journalist Turki Al-Dakhil Supports Allowing Women to Drive as Well as the Chopping Off of Thieves' Hands
Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi journalist Turki Al-Dakhil, which aired on Rotana Music TV on January 19, 2009.
Interviewer: Are you for or against peace with Israel?
Turki Al-Dakhil: I support peace if it does not involve complete surrender.
Interviewer: Do you view the peace some Arab countries have signed with Israel as surrender? Which countries, for instance?
Turki Al-Dakhil: No, what I meant is that, for example, the Arab peace initiative...
Interviewer: You are not referring to the peace Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan?
Turki Al-Dakhil: To be honest, I don't know. Egypt and Jordan have reached agreements that protect their interests. A country like Jordan, with small revenues and few natural resources, cannot survive in the eye of a conflict. In order to focus on development, it had to sign peace with Israel. On the contrary, I support this idea.
Interviewer: Are you for or against disarming Hizbullah?
Turki Al-Dakhil: I support disarming Hizbullah. I support disarming any organization other than the state.
Michel Aoun's trip to Syria has raised question marks from here to Damascus.
Interviewer: But nothing is constant in politics, as you know.
Turki Al-Dakhil: I wrote this in my article, but when Aoun gets up in a press conference, and begins to theorize about how Syria has changed, and about how Assad Jr. is different from Assad Sr. – I say: By God, what change has Syria undergone exactly? I don't see any change. Aoun fled to the French embassy. He was fleeing from the Syrians for 15 years. He fled in his underwear. He fled to save his life.
Interviewer: Do you think this visit was detrimental to him? I am talking about the long run, because right now, we see no sign of this.
Turki Al-Dakhil: I don't care if it was detrimental to him or not, but as someone who follows the events, I was surprised by this change, and by the theories about how this change is logical. It's like saying: The others have changed, not me.
Interviewer: Are you for or against preventing Saudi women from driving?
Turki Al-Dakhil: I am against preventing women from driving.
Turki Al-Dakhil: Against the prevention.
Interviewer: Against the prevention?
Turki Al-Dakhil: I support allowing women to drive.
Interviewer: Why has this taken so long?
Turki Al-Dakhil: To be honest, I don't see any justification for this. The fact that to this day, women are not allowed to drive is a very negative thing for Saudi Arabia.
Interviewer: What about continuing to implement the laws of the shari'a, such as lashing, and chopping off the hands of thieves? This is my third "for or against" question.
Turki Al-Dakhil: I am in favor of continuing these laws.
Interviewer: You support continuing them?
Turki Al-Dakhil: Yes.
Interviewer: Even though the West considers these laws...
Turki Al-Dakhil: These laws appear in shari'a texts.
Interviewer: But many Islamic and Arab countries do not implement them, even though they follow the religion of Islam.
Turki Al-Dakhil: Obviously, not all countries must be the same.
Interviewer: So you support this?
Turki Al-Dakhil: Yes.
Interviewer: Don't you consider this, as human rights organizations claim...
Turki Al-Dakhil: Barbaric punishments?
Turki Al-Dakhil: Do you think that something that is written in Allah's book can be barbaric? I'm asking you.
Interviewer: No, I am doing the asking in this show.
Turki Al-Dakhil: Consider that to be my answer.