In the war against terrorism, groups like al-Qaeda or the Taliban are cited for their cruelty towards women, but rarely does the world press focus on abuses against women in the “democratic society” of Saudi Arabia. Jennifer Birell, an Australian citizen is presently trapped in Saudi Arabia and is a virtual prisoner due to the machinations of her ex-husband. In a nutshell, this is her story. Ms. Birrell, a convert to the Muslim religion, married a man from Yemen and fled from his abusive behavior in order to save her life. Somehow, he found an old phone bill and has used it to make her life a living hell. Ms. Birrell worked as director of English at Al-Yamamah University under the supervision of Mohammed Ahmed Nagi. She had to contact him almost daily concerning her work. After a while he offered to become her fuardian, or mahram, in accordance with Muslim custom.
The ex-husband produced the phone bill which noted phone calls and claimed that Nagi had been guilty of takbeeb, “destruction of the family.” Nagi was sentenced to 300 lashes and three years in jail. Ms. Birrell can not leave the country without permission of Nagi but since he is in jail she is stuck in Saudi Arabia.
OK, it is terrible to attack another religion. But, there are simply too many such cases in which the Muslim religion allows men in power to abuse women, as well as innocent men.