Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi Women's Rights Activist Suheila Hammad, aired by Al-'Arabiya TV on April 12, 2005.
Interviewer: So you think that a woman is permitted to become a ruler. Do you think a woman can become the Caliph of the Muslims?
Suheila Hammad: She can become a queen or a president. This has already happened. I'm telling you, it's possible...
Interviewer: I'm just asking. Do you think this is permitted?
Suheila Hammad: This isn't what I think. This is Islam.
Interviewer: What percentage of Saudi women make this demand? I suspect that it's just you and a few others.
Suheila Hammad: No, there are a lot, but unfortunately they don't have the courage to make demands and to speak out. But we constantly hear women saying: "Our rights are already guaranteed. We are content and satisfied with what we have."
Interviewer: I suspect that although your voice is loud, it represents only a small group – all these demands of yours.
Suheila Hammad: Unfortunately, these women are not aware of their rights. We were raised to compromise. Our education, Mr. Turki... We were raised to believe that women must always make compromises on top of compromises. Women have learned to be satisfied with anything, as if this is normal. Religious discourse has raised her to make compromises. We always hear clerics say that a woman must be like this or that, but they never say "her rights are this and that," and they don't obligate men to do such things.
This is our religious discourse. They only obligate the women, while men have no obligations. Unfortunately, for the most part obligations apply only to women. Women must do this and that, to the point where there are women who say that polygamy is the original state of affairs. Who said that polygamy is the original state of affairs? If this were so, God would have created more than one Eve for Adam. If this were so, the Prophet Muhammad wouldn't have settled for Hadija alone, when he got married.