Twists in Saudi woman saga deepen mystery

August 10, 2012
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The saga of the Saudi woman at the centre of a controversy over her alleged conversion to Christianity and leaving her country clandestinely has taken a new twist after she reportedly called a newspaper to claim she was still a Muslim and her father said that she was being held against her will in Sweden.

However, Saudi Arabic daily Al Yawm reported on Wednesday that the woman, who was not named, was expected to return home from Sweden within days.

Several people have stepped in to help reach a solution to the issue, sources told the daily.

According to the sources that the paper did not identify, Saudi and Swedish officials are working together to ensure that the woman is not transferred to another country by alleged kidnappers. No information was available on when the woman arrived in Sweden or how she obtained the visa to enter the Scandinavian country.

The 30-year-old Saudi national has made headlines after her father filed a formal suit against two men, a Saudi and a Lebanese, for their alleged role in influencing the woman’s religious orientations and helping her leave Saudi Arabia.

However, Al Yawm said that the woman never converted to Christianity and that she left the Saudi kingdom following months of relentless pressure from her Lebanese boss.

“I had illusions after my boss, Hanna, a Christian Lebanese, took advantage of my vulnerability resulting from personal problems, to press that I should leave Saudi Arabia for a country where there will be more freedom,” the woman was quoted as telling Al Yawm in a phone call from Sweden.

“I asked him to help me leave Saudi Arabia and he asked a Saudi man who worked with us to forge travel documents and to drive me to Bahrain where I took a plane to Qatar, then to Beirut where I was welcomed by a woman who claimed that she was Hanna’s sister and her driver, Saleem. They took me to an area around 90 kilometres from Beirut and left me in a church,” she said.

The woman said that she was still a Muslim and that she was fasting during Ramadan, the Muslim’s sacred month during which they abstain from food and drink from sunrise until sunset.

“I am a Muslim and I am fasting. I will not give up my religion. Only those who lose their minds will convert from Islam to another religion and I have not lost my mind,” she said.

She also denied that she gave an interview to a pro-Christianity television station in which she claimed that she converted after she had a vision about Jesus.

“They brought in an Iraqi girl and pretended that she was me. They fed some details to the Iraqi girl who assumed my personality. If it were me, why would I keep the veil on my face? I have refused to appear on a Christian TV in Lebanon,” she said.

In the interview posted on a social network, the woman had the lower part of her face covered.

The father insisted that his daughter was now in the custody of a Christian group in the Swedish capital and that she had been barred from going out. She had communicated with her mother, he added.

According to Al Yawm, the woman’s father has received threats that his daughter would be killed or would disappear in a European country if the Lebanese man, incarcerated in a Saudi prison, was not released.

“Several Lebanese men have called me to tell me that if Hanna was not released, we will kidnap your daughter and take her to a different European country every 20 days,” he said.

The paper, quoting sources, did not rule out that an international organisation trafficking in people or in blackmail was behind the case.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/twists-in-saudi-woman-saga-deepen-mystery-1.1056086

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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