A great injustice is about to occur in Saudi Arabia.
Two leading feminists there are facing imprisonment for the crime of bringing food and water to a family in need.
Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyouni were sentenced in June to ten months in prison and a two-year travel ban for bringing these essentials to a Canadian woman. Her Saudi husband had locked her in her home with her three young children. She had texted the women on June 6, 2011, to tell them the family had insufficient provisions in the house. When they arrived with food and water, they were arrested.
The two women, who founded the Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudia Arabia, were found guilty of inciting a woman against her husband.
They appealed their sentence, but lost.
Wajeha al-Huwaider has campaigned most famously for a woman's right to drive a car in Saudi Arabia. And she used to have a newspaper column there until the government prohibited it a decade ago. Since then, she's taken to the Internet.
We were honored to have her write an article for The Progressive in our December 2010-January 2011 special issue on the global uprising.
"I was born and raised in the Kindgom of Saudi Arabia," she wrote. "As a feminist, I have chosen to be on the front line against women's oppression because I'm driven by beliefs in justice and my love for my country." At that time, she believed that space was opening up in Saudi Arabia.
After her conviction was upheld, she wrote me an e-mail, asking: "Where can a person find justice in this place?" And in a letter to supporters, she added wryly: "I'm sure I'll find something interesting to do in the place that I'm going to."
In a recent Internet posting, she wrote that the appellate court "conveyed a sharp message to all Saudi women, namely that any woman who demands social justice for her fellow women will meet the same fate, or perhaps even harsher measures."
Defiantly, she added: "We will never let you deny us our humane values and dream of a dignified life. On my own behalf and on behalf of my friend Fawzia al-Uyouni, and on behalf of all the decent people and the reformists in the world, we cry out against evil.... You who have chosen to stand in formation at the behest of oppression, do what you will, but rest assured that you shall not be able to distance us even a little from our humane values."
Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyouni expect to be jailed imminently.
To lodge a protest, write:
Crown Prince and Minister of the InteriorHis Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al SaudMinistry of the InteriorP.O.Box 2933,Airport Road,Riyadh 11134Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaFax: +966 1 403 3125
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the Senior editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Oh, No, Not Peace!
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.