Following Saudi Arabia’s decision a year ago to lift a ban on women driving, two weeks ago Saudi authorities announced that women would be granted passports and can travel abroad without the consent of their male guardians. Despite the granting of these reforms, however, prominent activists that had urged the Saudi government to implement them are still in prison, facing charges that Saudi Arabia has not publicly released. The family of activist Loujain al-Hathloul announced on Twitter that she was offered a chance to leave prison if she videotaped a statement that announced she had not been tortured in prison. According to al-Hathloul’s family, she “ripped the document” and refused. Loujain al-Hathloul’s sister, Alia al-Hathloul, told France 24 that her sister has been tortured and sexually abused during her detention. Loujain’s siblings have also told Reuters that Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was fired over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, was present during some of the torture sessions and threatened to rape and kill her.
Distinguished professor of law at UCLA Khaled Abou el Fadl joins us to discuss. He founded the Usuli Institute, an Islamic think tank to counter ignorance and extremism and has taught international human rights law and Islamic jurisprudence.