In a follow up to a previous show, in which he said that for Western women, getting raped is not a cultural problem, Saudi historian Saleh Al-Saadoon claimed that his comments were falsely translated. Later on in the show he said that women who ride taxis driven by foreign drivers share the responsibility if they get raped.
Following are excerpts:
Reporter: On January 11, we held a discussion on our program with Saudi historian Dr. Saleh Al-Saddoon, who believes that the West conspires against Saudi women.
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Women used to ride camels, so one might ask what prevents them from driving cars. In Saudi Arabia, we have special circumstances. The city of Arar is 150 km away from Al-Jawf. From Al-Awf to Al-Ha'il it is 400 km. If a woman drives from one city to another and her car breaks down, what will become of her?
Reporter: Well, women drive in America, in Europe, and in the Arab world…
Saleh Al-Saadoon: They don't care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do…
Reporter: Hold on, who told you that they don't care about getting raped by the roadside?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: It's no big deal for them beyond the damage to their morale.
Reporter: A few days ago, about a month after the interview, excerpts from the interview appeared in Western and European media and other outlets. The international press published detailed excerpts in various languages. Why did the interview raise such a great uproar, and how does Dr. Al-Saadoon respond to the international media coverage of his views on women's driving?
Saleh Al-Saadoon: [The media's response to what I said] was a surprise by any standard. I was especially surprised by the false translation. This was not an objective translation or a simple mistake. This was a deliberate and methodical falsification. I don't know if…
Reporter: How can you talk about falsification? They presented a video excerpt, not just something written. What was written was a detailed translation of the interview.
Saleh Al-Saadoon: They translated what I said. As you recall, sister Nadeen, we talked, but I did not say: "Women who drive cars do not care about being raped." The Daily Mail, for example, wrote: "A Saudi historian says that American women drive cars because rape is no big deal for them." This is not what I said.
I explained that they have no problem [with rape] from the religious and social aspects. Their problem is limited to their morale and to psychological aspects. I continue to maintain this. Western women are liberal. They are not governed by Christianity. They do not believe in Christianity.
Unless they are old, Western women are usually not religious – except for a handful of women who go proselytizing in Africa.
According to Islamic scholars, women are forbidden to ride in a taxi driven by a foreigner. If she does so, and the driver kidnaps and rapes her, she will be partially responsible, because she exposed herself to danger.
This is not my view. I'm just telling you the view of society. Don't blame me for conveying the views of 80% of Arab and Islamic society.
Reporter: Some people turn the victim into the criminal, but these views do not represent 80% of us.
Saleh Al-Saadoon: Many Saudis, Arabs, and Muslims hold this view – regardless of whether it is 70% or 90%.