Last week, a Saudi Arabian Airlines (better known as Saudia) A340 made a visit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The airline has regularly sent VIP planes to the Broward County airport in recent months for whatever reason. Perhaps some serious Saudi investment in the area has come from the dealings between Broward County municipalities and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
What is however troubling is that the airline is owned by a government that practices apartheid against women and now reports have surfaced that the Saudia will implement gender segregation in the air.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has extensive business dealings in Florida and practices strict Islamic law with regards to women. This means in the modern age, Saudi Arabia is a violator not only of human rights but of basic human dignity when it comes to females.
Florida’s political leaders have often made official visits to Saudi Arabia to stimulate investment, business and cultural ties. I would urge any official, be they state, county or local that has contact with the Saudi government in future to strongly emphasize that the barbaric treatment of women is not acceptable in 21st Century global society, irrespective of how religion is interpreted.
Last year two Broward County Mayors visited Saudi Arabia ostensibly to discuss investment though women’s issues were also reportedly discussed. Despite rhetorical barbs by some American politicians, Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women has never been made a stumbling block towards to deep ties with the US or with the State of Florida. That needs to change.
Regardless of whether The Daily Mail report is accurate (I am guessing Saudia will back off on this policy if it is really true accept perhaps on flights within the Persian Gulf region) conditions need to be put on further ties between Florida and Saudi Arabia. It is worth noting that The Daily Mail, is a conservative British tabloid. In recent years, attempts have been made in the United Kingdom to implement strict Sharia law within the British legal system. The recent upsurge in support for the anti-immigration, largely nativist UK Independence Party (UKIP) owes itself partly to the demands of some leaders in Britain’s religious Muslim community, though eastern European immigration to the country is probably a larger factor in UKIP’s rising popularity. So the report might be in fact an attempt by a conservative newspaper to raise tensions in Britain, something we certainly want no part of.
However, if the Florida Legislature can pass resolutions and laws related to our state’s relationship with Sudan, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, they certainly can stand up for women in Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps they simply won’t because of other external factors related to business interests of the state?
I would urge our readers to make Saudi policies towards women an issue with your local legislators or county officials. In the coming weeks we will be investigating further the potential financial ties between Florida’s elected officials and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. If anything trips over so to speak, you’ll see it reported here.