Nawal Al-Hawsawi is no ordinary woman. In fact, she defies all stereotypes of Saudi women — she is a family counselor, one of the first female pilots in the history of Saudi Arabia, a doctoral student and is married to a White American. With close to 50,000 followers on Twitter, she also works to support victims of domestic violence on social media.
In short, she is a woman who ruffles feathers.
For years, Al-Hawsawi has been the target of racial slurs and comments made by many who see her and her work as a threat. More recently, she has come under attack from a self proclaimed “National Guard” group, who appear to hate women, foreigners and those who are not members of certain tribes. “I represent everything that they hate,” she said in an interview with Arab News. “I am a Saudi married to an American and they are openly anti-American. My husband is white and they condemn inter-racial marriages. I am black and they believe all black people are slaves who should ‘remain in their place.’”
In 2014, she pursued a lawsuit against a woman who called her racist names during an event to celebrate Saudi National Day at a shopping mall in Mecca. She shared this particular experience on social media and received rallying support from her followers. Although she dropped the court case after she received an apology, the word slave is one that Saudis of African descent have to live with almost on a daily basis in Saudi Arabia.
She continues to remain a voice, campaigning for the rights of women, as well as fighting against racism and verbal abuse. And the attacks continue.
“They don’t like to see a strong woman standing up for women’s empowerment, undermining their misogynistic and gynophobic platform. They have successfully bullied many activists into silence in the past and they are trying to intimidate me. But they picked on the wrong person,” Al-Hawsawi said.
Image: Al Arabiya
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