Saudi Arabia added to its list of human rights abuses this week with the sentencing of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. I have previously written about the inspiring courage and commitment of Saudi feminists, but al-Hathloul is a standout even among that group. She has tirelessly fought for simple rights like the ability to drive in a kingdom that continues to deprive women, religious minorities, journalists, and others basic protections. She was reportedly tortured by the Saudi government, a signature of the blood-soaked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Now she has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Ms. al-Hathloul is a University of British Columbia graduate who war arrested alongside 10 other women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia in May 2018.
I have long been a critic of the Trump Administration’s alliance with Mohammed bin Salman and its covering up of his murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for the Washington Post. Our protection of the Crown Prince has been a national disgrace.
Yet, the true costs fall on brave activists like al-Hathloul, who refused to yield to the medieval practices of the Kingdom, which continues to rule under a strict Sharia system. She was charged with damaging the kingdom’s national security and trying to alter its political structure. No charges are more of a self-condemnation of the Kingdom as a fundamentally tyrannical and abusive government.