Who Am I to Judge?
Those are the words Pope Francis said about the gays.
Who am I to judge? Do I know the whole story?
This is my story.
When I lived in Boston, I became very good friend of a family from Saudi Arabia. Amina (not her real name) and I did many fun things together. She liked to drive her beautiful red car, and we went shopping to every nice Mall of the area.
Eventually Amina and her family went back home to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
We kept in touch via e-mail and saw her and her family in New York, in Barcelona, and in Dubai.
When I had a teaching assignment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I told her and she was very excited to be able to see me. However, I never saw her. We made plans and at the last minute, she cancelled them. My visa to Saudi Arabia did not allow me to leave Riyadh so I did not see her.
The year after, I went back to Riyadh to teach. We made plans...and she cancelled them…
I was very upset and told her how angered I was. That it is when I found the rest of the story…
She was crying telling me that she wanted very much to see me but she had to obey the Saudi rules: she was not allowed to travel by herself, she needed a close male relative to accompany her. Her husband was very busy, her father was in a hospital in the US, she does not have brothers…
I felt so bad! I should not have insisted and made her uncomfortable but mostly I felt sad for the wonderful women of Saudi Arabia who cannot drive, cannot travel by themselves….
I had another experience of similar kind in Riyadh
After doing some shopping at a Mall, instead of calling the cab from the compound where I was lodged, I was getting on a taxi parked in front of the mall. A lady grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the taxi. I was shocked and asked why?
Women without a male escort cannot ride on a taxi. If caught they go to jail.