After seeing it linked on several sites, I decided to see for myself. No, not the Daniel “Danny” Pearl vid, the State Department document (removed from their site years ago due to the protest from the American Muslim Council) on the advisability of American women marrying Saudi men. So far as I know it was originally mentioned by Anne Wilson, (who gave it the delicious headline “Friends don’t let friends marry wahoobi morons”) in the course of a bit about the American dopes who married Saudi men and now want the State Department to, well, do something goshdarnit! about their piss-poor lifestyle choices. The doc is still available for perusal on the ABCnews.com website, but being a great humanitarian and all, I’ve already looked it over. “ColdFury – subjecting ourselves to infuriating news so you don’t have to.” Here we go:
THE MYTH OF THE WESTERNIZED SAUDI
Inevitably, American citizen spouses characterize their Saudi husbands during their school days in the United States as being completely “westernized”; drinking beer with the best of them, chasing after women and generally celebrating all the diversities and decadence of a secular society. Women married to Saudis who did not fit the stereotype of the partying, or playboy/prince, are careful to point out that their spouses nevertheless displayed a tolerance toward all of these diversions and, particularly, toward them. In other words, the Saudi-American relationship virtually always blossoms in the States, in a climate which allows dating, cohabitation, children out of wedlock, religious diversity, and a multitude of other Islamic sins which go unnoticed by Saudi relatives and religious leaders thousands of miles away.
American citizen wives swear that the transformation in their Saudi husbands occurs during the transatlantic flight to the Kingdom…When they arrive, their husband’s traditional dress, speech, and responsibilities to his family re-emerge and the American citizen wife is left to cope with a new country, a new language, a new family, and a new husband. Whether a Saudi has spent one year or eight studying in the United States, each must return to the fold – grudgingly or with relief – to get along in Saudi society and within the family hierarchy that structures most social and business relations.
Hmm. You mean these guys are hypocritical and deceptive? How odd. That kind of cultural trait is certainly not evident in the way their government handles international affairs.
WHAT TO EXPECT AND CONSIDER
Quality of Life
Life in a desert Kingdom which prides itself on its conservative interpretation and application of the Quran (Koran) requires that couples talk about very basis lifestyle issues.
I am hereby granting this one the coveted Mushmouthed Understatement Of The Millenium award.
With whom will you live?
Many newly married couples move in with the groom’s parents, in a sprawling villa which may house several other siblings and their wives and families. Privacy is elusive and tensions with family members who for one reason or another resent the presence of an American wife often makes this living arrangement difficult. In a more affluent family, a couple may inhabit one of several homes which compromise a small family compound. Some Saudis live separately in villas or apartments. While that resolves the issue of privacy, many American wives find themselves completely isolated fearing the day, surrounded by neighbors who only speak Arabic, with no access to public or private transportation.
One tolerably married American citizen wife is not permitted to step out on the apartment porch since the risk is too great that an unrelated male would be able to see her.
This woman considers herself tolerably married? Good lord, geishas put up with less. I just picture myself telling any woman I have ever been involved with “Hey honey, you slatternly infidel, get offa that there porch – some non-related male might see ya! Now!” Yeah, I can just see that. I will personally guarantee that had I ever tried it, my face would look a whole lot worse than it does anyway, and that’s saying something. I have never, ever been one to place too much emphasis on “self-esteem” due to the fact that I think it just might be the most overused phrase in the American lexicon these days. But damn, the poor self-esteem radiating off this broad is actually visible, like the stink-lines in a cartoon drawing of a skunk. Sheesh.
What freedom of movement will you enjoy?
Women are prohibited from driving, riding a motorcycle, pedaling a bicycle, or travelling by taxi, train or plane without an escort. All American wives were aware that they would not be able to drive while in the kingdom, but few comprehended just how restricted their movements would be. Only the relatively affluent Saudi family will have a driver on staff, most American women depend entirely upon their husbands and male relatives for transportation. While most expatriate western women routinely use taxis, an American spouse will be expected to have an escort – either another female relative or children – before entering the taxi of an unrelated male.
Actually, this one seems pretty reasonable to me, at least in view of the rest of it. I mean, it only stands to reason that if you allow your American captive wife access to transportation, she’s going to take the opportunity to put as many miles between herself and you as possible, given the physical limitations of the size of the gas tank – and if she has any brains at all. Of course, if she had any brains at all, she wouldn’t have married your morally-stunted Saudi ass in the first place.
Will you be permitted to travel separately from your husband?
Travel by train or plane inside the kingdom requires the permission of the male spouse and the presence of a male family escort. Travel outside the Kingdom is even more restricted. Everyone leaving the Kingdom must have an exit visa. For an American spouse, this visa must be obtained by her Saudi husband. The Saudi spouse must accompany his wife to the airport to assure airport officials that he has given his permission for his wife to travel alone or with the children.
Most American wives believe that the U.S. Embassy can issue exit visas in a pinch. This is not the case. The U.S. Embassy cannot obtain exit visas for American citizens. Passports issued by the Embassy are worthless as travel documents without the mandatory Saudi exit visa. While some more affluent American relatives offer to pay for the American wife to travel independently, this often meets with disapproval from the Saudi husband or family.
So in other words, the Saudis know how to make sure that, once you’re caught, you stay caught. I could actually wish a few more American criminal-court judges understood that principle a little better.
Will you be permitted to work?
NO. (Actually, the State Department could have saved themselves a lot of time and dead-tree products by just printing “NO” in answer to almost every question on this list.)
The pressure to become a Muslim, or to be come a sincere Muslim, is enormous and never-ending. There is no separation of church and state in Saudi Arabia, and at the popular level there is simply no comprehension of religious freedom of the desire to remain Christian or undecided One American wife, who is approaching her tenth wedding anniversary has been terrorized by relatives who insist that the King has ordered that all women who don’t see the light after ten years must be divorced and deported. For another, the pressure comes mainly from her children who are mercilessly teased at school for having a foreign, non-Muslim mother. (Half-hearted converts to Islam find that their children are ridiculed for having mothers who pray awkwardly or not at all.) One Saudi teacher informed the children of an American citizen mother, who has sincerely concreted to Islam, that their mother could never be a Muslim since “only Arabs can be Muslim.” Women who don’t convert must accept that their children, through hours of Islamic education a day at school and under the tutelage of the family, will be Muslim. Women who do convert must understand that their conversion, particularly in the aftermath of a divorce, will be suspect and their fidelity to Islam perceived to be less than their husband’s.
Hey, all you religious conservatives here in the States – all of a sudden, freedom of (and from) religion starts to look pretty good, don’t it? Never mind.
What custody rights to women have under Sharia law?
Theoretically, a mother should maintain custody the children until the ages of 7-9, when their primary care would be transferred to their father. However, the ultimate objective of a Sharia court in the settlement of custody issues is that the child be raised a good Muslim. Whether a convert or not to Islam, an American woman will not overcome the prejudice against her upbringing and society. The Embassy has no knowledge of an American or any western woman ever winning custody of dual national children in a Sharia court.
Can an American mother flee the Kingdom with her dual national children?
It is impossible to legally leave the Kingdom with out the express permission of the Saudi husband. A woman who wishes to leave her husband but is pregnant at the time, can be required to wait until after the birth of the child. The same would hold true if the Saudi husband passed away – custody of the children and any unborn child would remain with the closest living Saudi male relative.
Can an American woman be denied visitation rights with her children?
A Saudi husband must giver explicit permission for a divorced wife to visit her children in the Kingdom. The Embassy has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create the “no-objection” visa. The ex-husband must be willing to sign a statement that he has no objection to his ex-wife visiting the Kingdom. In that statement, the ex-husband establishes how long he is willing to let his ex-wife remain in the country. The history of no-objection visas is mixed.
Only one American wife has successfully made no-objection visits over the course of the last five years. She has been successful because she speaks Arabic (Dual national children quickly lose their English skills once their mother departs the Kingdom), has managed to maintain steady relations with her ex-husband, and reconciled herself to the fact that her child would spend at least his first 18 years in the Kingdom. If the custody dispute has involved kidnapping by one or both parents, then by the time the children reach the Kingdom the father has no interest in facilitating relations with the American citizen mother. In these cases, all communication can be closed off and Saudi authorities will not intercede in family disputes. Consular Officers are rarely permitted to pay “Welfare and Whereabouts” visits.
Right here’s the nut of it as far as Pat Roush is concerned. I don’t mean to sound so callous (no, really) about her predicament – I’m sure she loves her children and I wish things were different, if only for her daughters’ sake. But it does NOT take a rocket scientist to figure out that marrying someone whose culture brutally represses damned near everybody, and especially women, in the name of the world’s most fascistic and primitive religion (there, I said it) might not be a great idea. I don’t know the circumstances that led this Roush woman to marry one of our Saudi “friends.” But it’s quite plain that she doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. And if she thinks the State Department has any leverage at all here, if she thinks the US Government can do anything whatsoever to help her out short of invading Saudi and replacing the government with something a little more oriented toward freedom and respect for all beliefs, then she’s a dumbass. But then, we knew that already, didn’t we? After all, she married a Saudi.