The Saudi journalist, Nadine Albodair, is again facing a wave of harsh criticism, including demands from a Saudi judge that her Saudi nationality be withdrawn, on the grounds that she has offended the Saudi people and the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
This extreme reaction followed an interview with Albodair by Egyptian journalist Wael AlAbrashy on the Alhaqeeqah show 'truth', broadcast in two parts, during which she described the members of the religious police in Saudi Arabia as a 'gang' and ‘ex-convicts and drug addicts.’
A few days after her comments, Albodair was viciously attacked on various Saudi websites and online forums – the manner of some of the attacks were indecent and tantamount to sexual harassment. The most shocking response being an abusive article written by a Saudi male journalist who published his article in the Saudi newspaper ‘Asharq’.
In his article he talked about her beautiful legs, thus undermining her professionalism as a journalist. He went on to hint that it was her sexual appeal that attracted her audience. He wrote “her legs will guarantee that people will follow-up and run fast to watch her television show.”
The journalist hinted in his article at her sexual appeal, saying: “I do not know for sure why but whenever I see Nadine Albodair she revives my youth and I feel like a young man again.”
The attack on Albodair, seems to be based on the fact she has left Saudi Arabia - though she works for a Saudi Channel outside Saudi Arabia - and that she appears on television, unveiled wearing dresses that show her legs.
The attack against her did not stop at abusive articles and comments. The Saudi judge, Metrif Albisher, demanded that she should be stripped of her Saudi nationality. His demands were published on Saudi ‘Sabaq’ news website, where he accused her of “repeatedly offending the Saudi nation and Saudi state establishments, and going too far without considering the limits of manners and good behaviour.”
The judge explained that she should be dealt with “so that fools will not follow suit or dare to insult Saudi State’s establishments or its judiciary system or its judges.” He added “The fools must be punished because there are some people who are not deterred by preaching, counselling and advice. She must be persecuted because she went too far and insulted the state departments. For that reason she must be punished according to state proceedings of Saudi Arabia.”
The judge said: ”The worst thing is the fact that she works for a Saudi television channel, and she has her own show on that channel, that is Rotana, and this indicates unlimited contradiction.
“She must be expelled from the channel” he demanded.
The judge who attacked Albodair, demanding the dismissal from her job, did not dare say a word against her employer, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal who just happens to be the nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. An entrepreneur and international investor whose personal wealth is estimated to be US$19.6bn by Forbes, making him the 26th richest person in the world and richest Saudi Arabian.
Regarding the procedures, the Saudi judge proposed “the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has its own lawyers and lawmakers, led by the guardian, they should complain to the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia, after listing her breaches, and documenting the evidence, she should be held accountable, and be brought from abroad to Saudi Arabia through Interpol to stand trial.”
The Saudi judge explained “She is still subject to the rules and procedure of the Saudi state as long as she carries the Saudi citizenship, and benefits from the services provided to her by the state through her nationality.” He argued “her criticism of the religious police is either motivated by seeking fame and attention or she is being dictated by a foreign party.”
Iqbal Tamimi, Director of Arab Women Media watch Centre in UK, commented on an article published by London based Alquds Alarabi newspaper on the subject, demanding an apology for Albodair from Saudi newspaper Asharq, explaining that what has been published on its pages by a male colleague against Albodair, does not reflect the journalists’ codes of ethics or the manners of Saudis who would never tarnish the reputation of others in this despicable manner.
She said that “His comments about Albodair’s legs are shameful for him and for other Saudi journalists,” and regarding his question: 'I do not know for sure why whenever I see Nadine Albodair she revives my youth and I feel like a young man again’ Tamimi said “Such a question is a proof of immaturity, recklessness and lack of responsibility in estimating the consequences and harm he has done to his female colleague. His words lack modesty and considered an explicit sexual harassment. We are awaiting and looking forward to hearing the reaction of the Saudi journalists Committee.”
It is worth mentioning that there is no journalists’ trade union Saudi Arabia to protect the rights of journalists.