Articles
A Campaign to ban Saudi Arabia from the Olympics
Habib Trabelsi * - « Translated by Nesrine Trabelsi » - 31 / 7 / 2010 - 12:20 am

A few days after his campaign against the Saudi public school curriculum¡ which he described as "devoted to incite hatred against the other¡" the Saudi dissident¡ Ali Al-Ahmad¡ organizes on Saturday¡ the 31st July in Washington¡ cultural and artistic events aiming to convince International Olympic Committee «IOC» to prohibit Saudi participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games¡ and to subsequently isolate it from all international sporting competitions¡ because it causes "discrimination against women."

According to Saudi laws¡ which are based on Islamic Shariah law derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah¡ women are not allowed to participate in the Olympics and other sporting events. In the past¡ the Kingdom had stressed that it would not accept any agreement contrary to Islamic law.

In recent years¡ the Saudi Shura Council discussed the issue of women's sports in schools and it developed regulations for women's sports clubs. However¡ any participation of women in international sports competitions will face tough opposition from hard-line clerics.

Council member¡ Abdul Wahab bin Mjthel¡ had finally thrown light to the subject when he responded to the IOC Women and Sport Commission’s president about the obligation to the involvement of Saudi women in the Olympics¡ by saying that "I do not mind¡ if these participations came in accordance with Islamic Shariah laws and if there is no direct mixing with men¡" as quoted by "The Independent on Sunday".

The campaign kicks off in Washington DC’s DuPont Circle under the slogan "No Women. No Play «in the Olympic Games»". It is launched by the Hadi al-Mutif Program for Human Rights at the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington¡ which is run by Ali Al-Ahmad.

Hadi Al-Mutif¡ who comes from the city of Najran and who belongs to the Ismaili Muslim minority¡ is considered as "the longest-held religious prisoner in the world" after he spent¡ ‘til now¡ more than 17 years behind bars in a Saudi prison¡ where he was convicted on the charge of "insulting the Prophet Muhammad" peace be upon him.

Civil rights activists are participating in the event along with artists¡ musicians¡ performers¡ and speakers to raise awareness on the status of women in Saudi Arabia and to rally support to end gender segregation in the Kingdom¡ taking advantage of the upcoming Olympic Games.

Among the most prominent speakers and participants are Marcella Jones¡ two-time 1st place winner of Syracuse University’s Talent Competition; Yvette Benjamin «aka Free»¡ Freelance singer/songwriter of soul and down-tempo music; Erin Matson¡ NOW Action Vice President; Besama Adriana Al-Ghussein¡ Palestinian-American women’s rights activist¡ and Arab artist and singer Munir Al-Ashiq.

Saudi Arabia marked its first appearance in the Olympics Games at its eighteenth session in 1964 that was held in Tokyo. The Kingdom’s involvement was confined to an administrative delegation and did not include athletic activities; and the same was repeated in the next session which was held in Mexico in 1968.

Its first real sports participation occurred at the twentieth session in 1972 in Munich¡ and it was limited to Athletics competitions. Saudi Arabia’s last participation took place in the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

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