Sign Petition to Prevent Forced Divorce in Saudi Arabia
A January 28, 2007, appeals court decision in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, threatens to set a precedent delivering a major setback in eliminating tribal and gender bias against women in Arab and Muslim societies, unless King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz agrees to forward the case to the Kingdom's High Court.
The original legal action resulted in the forced divorce of Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani. Filed by Fatima's half-brothers after the death of her father, the petition claimed that Al-Timani misrepresented his tribal affiliation (or social status) when he sought permission to marry Fatima.
Al-Timani denied the charge, and in the single court appearance Fatima was made aware of, she adamantly declared to Justice Ibrahim Al-Farraj, that she did not wish to be divorced from her husband.
This is a dangerous precedent for Muslim men and women not only in Saudi Arabia, but also for Muslims world wide, as many Islamic "scholars" (I use the term very loosely) take their cue from what is going on in Saudi Arabia. The only course of action is for the case to be heard (and overturned) by the Saudi High Court.
Please sign the petition to King Abdullah to refer this case to the Saudi high court. This petition is being sponsored by Saudi women journalists and activists, but they need the help of every one of us.
The full text of the petition is below:
To: THE CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES, KING ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL AZIZ In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
SAY 'NO' TO FORCED DIVORCE - 'YES' TO REFORMS
Reunite Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani
Reunite Rania Albou-Enin and Saud Al-Khaledi
February 9, 2007
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, hereby state that, while we appreciate the efforts you have made toward positive reform within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, particularly where it concerns female citizens of the Kingdom, it is with sincere regret that we, the international community, are compelled to once again prevail upon your obligation to uphold that which right and reverse that which is inherently wrong, namely in the case of Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani. This case is the byproduct of a flawed judicial process and subsequent appellate court ruling that sets a precedent destined to create a disastrous domino effect throughout the Kingdom that will ultimately affect Muslim women world-wide. And the first domino has already fallen as we are already reading about the case of Rania Albou-Enin and her husband, Saud Al-Khaledi.
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, UNDERSTAND, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is governed by the law of Sharia, which is purportedly based on 'Islamic' principles, whereupon we respectfully ask the following questions:
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ASK, why is the government of the Kingdom supporting the division and segregation of its citizens by class or social origin? Are we to believe that you would allow the rest of the world to be convinced that Islam advocates racism or tribalism?
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED ASK, why are [adult] [sane] unmarried female women, although they can receive education, hold jobs, own property, give birth, etc., restricted by guardianship that suffers in its effectiveness in providing for the best interest of the person being 'guarded' or 'protected' as a result of the 'trickle-down' effect as the family lineage moves from father, to brother, to half-brother, to cousin, to first cousin, to second cousin, to third cousin, to fourth cousin, etc?
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ASK, why is the judicial system structured in such a way that a Judge can divorce a couple based on what the 'guardian' of a MARRIED woman has to say in support of a request for forced divorce or annulment, when a HUSBAND becomes the guardian of his wife?
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ASK, why or how is it that a Judge can make a ruling in a divorce/annulment case without the parties being present?
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ASK, for all rhetoric about how important the family structure is and in light of the negative press about divorce rates, why is it either possible or necessary for a openly, happily married couple WITH CHILDREN, to be unmercifully ripped out of one another's lives?
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, ASK, how can ANY woman within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hope to sleep a single, peaceful night's sleep knowing that any on day, at any minute, she could unknowingly, at the hands of someone not even remotely acting in her best interest, or the best interest of her children or husband, obtain a order of forced divorce, forever damaging a solidly loving family unit?
WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST, that you respectfully consider this petition and the petitions of the Saudi women writers, activists and citizens previously presented to you, in a favorable light, without fear of suffering any undue repercussions for collaborating to make sure this matter was brought to your attention.
WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST, that you reassert your leadership in support of reforms on behalf of the Kingdom's female population by ensuring that Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani's case is forwarded to the High Court with your recommendation for its absolute reversal.
WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST, that an order of protection providing for measures to safeguard the lives of Fatima, her daughter, her son, and her husband, Mansour Al-Timani, from any person or persons seeking retribution or revenge against them in such a way as to cause any physical, mental, emotional or monetary harm, as a result of all past and future judicial proceedings and decisions in their case. These measures should also be supported by enforceable, long-term imprisonment for violation of any of the protective orders' terms or conditions.
WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST, that whatever existing law, legally binding device or avenue through which a decision to divorce or annul the marriage of a husband and wife, without the consent of the parties, be abolished or amended to stipulate that both parties are required by law to be present before the presiding Judge or other legally binding judicial administrator, for any hearing wherein a legally binding decision is to be heard regarding the status of their marriage. Additionally, sanctions against a party failing to appear before the court, without just cause (verifiable death of the party, death of a family member or hospitalization of the party or immediate family member), should be implemented and enforced to the degree that the offending party strives earnestly to appear when required for fear of facing dire consequences. Proof of notification, in the form of a written, sworn statement, of any hearing related to a pending action should be required as to both the husband and the wife before enforcement of any consequence for failing to appear. Proof of hearing notifications should be made a part of the case record. Falsification of a proof of hearing notification document shall also be punishable to the fullest extent of any existing, or by necessity, newly mandated and enforceable law pertaining to proof of hearing notifications.
WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST, that the laws mandating guardianship over women be reviewed, modified, implemented and provision made for their enforcement providing for the bona-fide best interest of all female citizens, with particular modifications to be made providing alternate choices for women who have reached the age of emancipation, who have been divorced and/or widowed, or who may otherwise be without an immediate male family member (father or brother) qualified to serve in the role of guardian. The panel overseeing the review of guardianship law should also be comprised in equal shares of men and women. There is no room in this provision for women to have to deal with, or suffer as a result of, self-serving, non-immediate family members who are insincere about providing for, or protecting the best interest of female family members under their guardianship.
WE HEREBY ASSERT, that, the manner in which forced divorces and/or annulments within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is against Islamic teachings and goes against the very statements* offered by the Kingdom as to reasons why it was deemed necessary to abstain from signing both 'The International Human Rights Declaration' and 'The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights'. The women of Saudi Arabia deserve better, and the rest of the world certainly deserves a better example.
The lack of existing laws, lapse in implementation of existing laws, and/or the lack of enforcement for laws that would ensure the protection of a woman's rights in marriage, divorce and guardianship is evident from what we have witnessed in throughout the 7-month saga of Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani.
Fatima, Mansour and their children have been deprived of the right to live peacefully, and the right to maintain a stable and nurturing environment in which to raise their children. And women throughout the Kingdom have been deprived of the right to feel secure in the knowledge that their government is protecting them from guardianship abuse and gender bias. Women throughout the Kingdom have also been deprived of the right to be secure in the freedom of exercising their God-given right to chose a spouse of their liking, and the right to enter into a marital relationship without coercion or compulsion, and most certainly without fear of abuse.
WE HEREBY AFFIRM, that this Petition will remain open until such time as the global community is provided with visible manifestation that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has written, revised, implemented and provided for the enforcement of, the requests made herein.
May Allah guide us all. Amin.