When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Saudi Arabia on Sunday, he is expected to discuss Yemen, Iran and Syria and “seek an update on the status of the investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
I am struck by what is not included in Mr. Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity. Mr. Pompeo’s apathy is personal for me because one of the women detained, Loujain al-Hathloul, is my sister. She has worked relentlessly to earn Saudi women the right to drive.
I live in Brussels. On May 15, I got a message from my family that Loujain had been arrested at my parents’ house in Riyadh, where she was living. I was shocked and confused because the Saudi ban on women driving was about to be removed.
We could not find out why she was arrested and where she was being held. On May 19, the Saudi media accused her and the five other arrested women of being traitors. A government-aligned newspaper quoted sources predicting the women would get sentences of up to 20 years — or even the death penalty. [Continue reading…]