Sunday, February 21, 2010

Phyllis Chesler: Make Ali Alyami US Ambassador to the Islamic Conference

She concludes this interview with the nomination on Pajamas Media's blog:
Q: Have you also taken a stand in favor of tolerance for apostasy? And against honor killing and honor-related violence? What has happened?

Yes to all of the above. We research, write, and analyze and expose these violations of human rights through the internet, conferences and media releases. The results are impressive, especially with Saudis.

Q: Give me some examples of the kind of foundations, institutes, conferences, etc. that have not invited you to speak or that have challenged you in other ways.

A: Only the Hudson Institute in DC has asked me to speak, even though our Center is the only organization focused totally on Saudi Arabia.

Q: Do you believe a pro-democracy political organization launched by Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents can be successful?

A: It depends on the individuals and groups and the form of democracy they seek. Most Muslims believe that democracy American-style cannot work in Muslim countries but can be modified to suit the religious and cultural heritage of Muslim societies. CDHR promotes American-style democracy where the individuals, male or female, are in charge of their lives and destiny.

Q: How have you been treated by apologists for Saudi Arabia?

A: Not well, even though they don’t disagree with my platform. Their disagreement with me is not philosophical as much as concern for material gain for their own projects and institutions. They are hired to promote Saudi policy and interests and to polish their tarnished image.

Q: Have you ever tried to visit Saudi Arabia? What happened?

A: I have. I was denied a visa. I am a peaceful promoter of genuine democratic reforms where power emanates from the people. I am opposed to religious totalitarianism, gender segregations and inequality. I believe that religion is a belief and not a tool of oppression, control, divisiveness, squandering of public wealth, incitement against non-Muslims and justification for child and forced marriages.

Q: Do you correspond with or talk to your family? Has your work endangered them? Have they been forced to cut you off?

A: I don’t talk to my family in Saudi Arabia and they don’t talk to me either. Saudi society is highly self-regulated because of decades of brutal reprisals by the Saudi ruling family and its ubiquitous security apparatus like the legalized terrorist religious police, known as Matawain or domesticators.

Q: What consequences has your leaving had for you in terms of family left behind and for your work?

Nothing can be more emotionally lonely and excruciating for me than not being able to visit my homeland, family, friends and be able to walk in the simple neighborhoods where I was born, reared, grew and worked.

Q: Who or what keeps you going in the face of so many obstacles?

A: Commitment to do something bigger than me. I have lived under the yoke of tyranny. Consequently, I value my liberty, not just for me but for the oppressed people of my motherland whose freedom is in the best interest of the Middle East and the international community.
President Obama should consider Dr. Alyami as another kind of representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference–one who would be less interested in appeasing them than in facilitating a reformation.