Loujain al-Hathloul, Saudi women's rights activist, released from prison

PRI's The World


Done nothing except champion. A woman's right to drive a car. But yesterday saudi arabian activists widow. Jane hathloul was released after a thousand and one days in prison. Family members and international human rights groups have been calling for her release and an end to her alleged torture. Al hathloul was arrested in two thousand eighteen for leading a campaign to grant women the right to drive in saudi arabia. Dr best mamani joins me. Now she's a professor of political science at the university of waterloo canada. Welcome to the program. How significant is this Lujan al hathloul release from jail. Well it's just wonderful news to be honest with you. I think so. Many of us were worried for her. She's a wonderful person. And i think certainly the fact that She's finally been released is a great thing. But they're still a lot of concern about her situation. And i think there's going to be a large discussion. And hopefully she'll be able to at some point talk about the really the suffering she endured. I mean the photo of her after release. It's joyous smile. But how does login even start to rebuild life after trauma like this. There are allegations of torture during your time in jail. So i think the rebuilding process for her is going to be significant. Certainly of course the the trauma being imprisoned I think there was abuse That may have been sexual nature as well torture from looking at the picture. She's clearly thinner. She has gray hair now and i met her five years ago with not a not a single gray hair on her head and i mean there's definitely a beaming smile in the photo. And that's because she's with her her parents but she still separated from her siblings of course many of which are outside the country and ex husband. You know there was a falling out of of a marriage because of the so. I think there's there's a lot of pain and suffering. I'm sure aside from her parents. You have a sense of what her support system in. Saudi is no i think She's certainly under a some sort of gag. Order not to speak to people and i suspect House arrested is a part of that. So she's not gonna have free movement in any way She has a wonderful family parents. Who are very supportive And have been really behind her from from day one of her activism. they're really quite impressive. People dutchwoman. Let's get to the bigger picture. We know that crown prince of saudi arabia mohammed bin salman sees himself as a reformer. What impact could james release have on the internal politics of saudi. Arabia haven't been really wants to take this as a win. A certainly i think if it wasn't for the biden administration coming in. I don't think we would have seen her release unfortunately so elections matter as they say but one of the things that i think her story will be told hush hush i think many people are discussing it online and certainly social media buzz there some very interesting hashtags and saudis twitter to talk about all these kinds of issues there still a lot of great discontent at the same time. Unfortunately hamad bin salman is seen as reformer in some way internally. He's opened up the country culturally. And and certainly you know. Put down the conservative or religious police which is a welcome news for young people. So you know. I think she she would be to be honest with you and more popular of saudi arabia than inside saudi arabia. But that's partly because of kind of nationalist propaganda that has permeated much of saudi society today.

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