Female pilot vows to pursue lawsuit against racist slur

Female pilot vows to pursue lawsuit against racist slur
Updated 05 February 2014

Female pilot vows to pursue lawsuit against racist slur

Female pilot vows to pursue lawsuit against racist slur

Nawal Al-Hawsawi, a Saudi female pilot, is determined to pursue a lawsuit against a woman who called her racist names during an event to celebrate Saudi National Day at a shopping mall in Makkah.
Al-Hawsawi was shopping with her family when another woman pushed and verbally abused her with racist slurs. The woman called Al-Hawsawi a slave, a term commonly used within Arab culture to refer to people with dark skin with the intent to degrade and offend.
“My intention is not to make the campaign about my story. This is not about me and what happened to me. It is about racism in our society,” she said.
“I want to make a change and I want to shed light on such an incident. This is a golden opportunity to challenge stereotypes and raise awareness to change this attitude in our culture,” she added.
Al-Hawsawi had immediately told a security guard and a policeman to formally register her complaint when she was verbally attacked.
Her case was then referred to the Commission for Investigation and Prosecution.
“I hired two lawyers and I am confident that justice will be delivered because I am demanding change. We cannot ignore verbal abuse; it is unacceptable and rude,” said Al-Hawsawi.
“Our religion and laws fight such forms of verbal abuse as much as all the international and human laws of the world. I have never faced this problem outside the Kingdom, but sadly, this is not the first time it happens here in my home country,” she said.
A believer in the power of social media and in people, Al-Hawsawi decided to share her unfortunate experience with her Twitter followers, which garnered support.
“I did not want to complain or cry. I said that this incident inspired me to write a book and call it “Al-Abda,” Arabic for female slave, where I will share my opinions and experiences. I also wanted to write about all the incidents that happened to my friends and the people around me,” she said.
The case is already in court and, according to Al-Hawsawi, has achieved a satisfactory judgment, who said that she cannot share more details at this time.
“During the court days, members of the lady’s family tried to apologize and asked me to drop the case. I heard nothing of it and insisted on proceeding to court,” she said.
“I believe they made a mistake and are good people, but I reached a resolution in the case against them of which the details I will share only in the book,” she added.
Hawsawi studied aviation in the USA and got the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private’s Pilot certificate in 2008. She is a human rights activist who is involved in public and community works in the Kingdom, most notably in the establishment of an initiative called “Adam” to fight racism in Makkah.
She said the initiative aims to combat all forms of intolerance, including racism against women, foreign workers and tribal racism in Saudi communities.
“This issue has provoked interactive participation and posts. I hope it will encourage people to respect each other regardless of their color, origin or any other factors,” she said.
“I also hope this will change the face of media in the Arab world, which focuses only on the negative stereotypes associated with people with darker skin and refrains from shedding light on their achievements,” she said.