My Thank You Note to Abdo Khal and Tina Brown, Newsweek
by NANCY HARTEVELT KOBRIN, PHD
August 29, 2012
Salaamu alaykhu wa-intum b'khayr Abdo Khal,
Ms. Brown, the editor of Newsweek , published your ode to the city of Jeddah entitled "Abdo Khal on a maternal metropolis that's nurturing--and coveted." Read it here.
I wish to publicly thank you as a leading Saudi novelist for confirming my theory that Saudi Muslims suffer from a particular affliction -- an obsession with their mothers and all things maternal, which leads to pseudo-empathy, rage and violence. See my The Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth about Islamic Suicide Bombing,
Potomac, 2010. Actually neuroscience is beginning to corroborate what I describe.
In fact, you have no empathy for your very own women and little girls. You treat them like khara, (Ar. shit). If you can feel at all, perhaps that is how you feel.
Your maternal obsession is merely a cover-up for your terrors of the female. You feel deep shame and humiliation that you, virile males, are born from such a devalued female body. Hence, you throw a cloak over it, calling it a burka and efface her from public viewing. When a fire breaks out in a girl's school, you lock the doors and little girls burn to death. You do not permit your women to drive. You practice polygyny, pitting one wife against another. You engage in honor killing. You do not let her travel alone and you still witness her head being cut off for not behaving properly. So much for tolerance and diversity. I shiver.
Your maternal obsession is also made manifest by the mosque. See my Mosque as Mother here.
Yaa* Abdo Khal -- while you wax lyrically for your beloved Jeddah (which means grandmother) as the city of Eve, the first mother, you note that Jeddah is the entrance point for those Muslims coming on Hajj. Indeed your translator, Raphael Cohen, rendered your Arabic into such passionate English so much so, that Tina Brown was hoodwinked or should I say, "burked" into colluding with your faux diversity and claim of undying love for all humanity. Yet some how your lyricism fell on my deaf ears.
Allow me to explain. I had particular trouble with your concluding melodramatic assertions:
"Dozens of race, languages, and cultures have combined to form the unique cultural mishmash that every inhabitant of Jeddah, a jeddawi, is so proud of. Every one of these ethnicities had left its mark on Jeddah, whose culture is a mingling of such deep, diverse cultures as Indian, Chinese, Persian, Kurdish, Indonesian, African, Greek, Albanian, and Turkish, plus the presence of those from every Arab land. She houses construction workers, carpenters, doctors and merchants. In this diversity an amazing richness has grown, forming a common well for the people of Jeddah to drink from.Discrimination on the basis of race, faith, or creed is something totally unknown to them." (emphasis mine)
Yaa Abdo Khal, the last time I checked -- I was not permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia because I am not a Muslim and worse than that, in your eyes, a Jew.
Yaa Abdo Khal -- the last time I checked, Christians can not practice their religion openly nor without persecution.
Yaa Abdo Khal -- excuse me finally -- female foreign workers are treated like slaves and in many documented instances beaten, tortured, raped and murdered
And so you close your essay, which was picked as TopPopular by Newsweek proclaiming:
"Jeddah, as the city of our mother Eve, feels that she encompasses and embraces all her children who pass through. They remain beside her, honoring their mother. Perhaps one dark evening you will hear her singing a plaintive ballad in search of her lost children who have yet to arrive."
Yaa, Abdo Khal -- if this is a veiled allusion to "those" Christians and Jews who have not been permitted to visit Jeddah, it is a stretch. And if you are engaging in Dawah, hoping that the kuffars like myself, non-believers, Christians and Jews, will see the light, your writing masks a severe narcissism. Why would I want to become like you?
Yaa, Abdo Khal, when you stop sending suicide bombers from your Saudi funded mosques, when you teach your men to open doors to a girl's school when it is set on fire, and when you open the doors of your country and Jeddah to Jews, then maybe I might be able to see what you mean.
Until then, at this most holy time of year, I wish you and your Ummi salaam,
*Yaa is a poetic word of emphasis often translated as "Oh."
**Nadia is the name I chose for Arabic class many years ago