RIYADH: A well-known black Saudi woman, who is a family counselor and pilot, has been targeted online by racists, including with images of monkeys and gorillas, questions raised about her citizenship, and death threats.
Nawal Al-Hawsawi said that her work to help victims of domestic violence on social media, including 50,000 followers on Twitter, has been the target of mainly racist men who appear to hate women, foreigners and those who are not members of certain tribes. “In addition, pictures of my family and children have been leaked, threatening their safety.”
Al-Hawsawi said the most recent attack was launched by someone who goes by the name “Saudi Conscience” and operates under the Twitter handle @saudi100d100. He and his followers have blamed foreigners for various socioeconomic problems, including unemployment and gasoline and electricity price increases, she said.
They are a self-proclaimed “National Guard,” divide the country into three groups: “Original Saudis” (certain Bedouin tribes), “Vomit of the Seas Saudis” (Saudis of foreign descent or Saudis that are not members of certain Bedouin tribes), and “Strangers” (all legal residents and foreigners in Saudi Arabia).
They have called for the deportation of all “Strangers,” and for the citizenship of those who are not supposedly “pure” Saudis to be revoked, in addition to immediate deportation.
She said her work is a threat to the “hate agenda” of these Saudi “neo-Nazis." "I represent everything that they hate. I am a Saudi married to an American and they are openly anti-American. My husband is white and they condemn inter-racial marriages. I am black and they believe all black people are slaves who should ‘remain in their place.’”
“I am a native Saudi from Al-Hijaz, born and raised in Makkah, and they believe people from Al-Hijaz are not real Saudis. I am a Ph.D. student, but they claim that women are not intelligent and shouldn’t be allowed to work. I also hold an FAA pilot’s license while living in a country that does not allow women to drive cars.
“They don’t like to see a strong woman standing up for women’s empowerment, undermining their misogynistic and gynophobic platform. They have successfully bullied many activists into silence in the past and they are trying to intimidate me. But they picked on the wrong person,” Al-Hawsawi said.
Al-Hawsawi said she has filed a complaint with the authorities about the death threats and the comments under the country’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law, overseen by the Communications and Information Technology Commission.
Some of her tweets that have been attacked include a message received from a Pakistani resident who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and wanted to marry a Saudi, but her brothers objected because of the nationality of the groom.
She also posted a question received from a Saudi teacher being physically abused by her unemployed brother, who had forced her to give him money by taking out bank loans and buy him a car. He had also refused to allow her to marry an Egyptian man because of his nationality.
“Again, this was done in the name of protecting the ‘pure lineage.’ With the victim’s permission, I posted pictures of her bruises and injuries sustained when her brother beat her.”