In a Satirical Poem, Saudi Author Laments
Conditions in the Arab World

In a satirical poem titled "When," posted on Arabic reformist websites
including www.aafaq.org , reformist Saudi
author and journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider lamented what she regards as the
conditions in the Arab world. In the introduction to this poem, she wrote:
"'When' is an ode to the troubles of the Arab citizen. Both men and women
participated in its [writing], and it is still open to additions. This ode will
be hung on the walls of the palaces of the Arab rulers, [1] so feel free to add you contributions."



The following are excerpts from the poem:


"When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on
every corner - you know that you are in an Arab country…

"When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity -
do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

"When religion has control over science - you can be sure that you are in an
Arab country.

"When clerics are referred to as 'scholars' - don't be astonished, you are in
an Arab country.

"When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or
relinquishes his power, and whom nobody is permitted to criticize - do not be
too upset, you are in an Arab country.

"When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy
in slavery - do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

"When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but [see them]
seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions [in the
government] - do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When monarchies turn into theocracies, and republics into hybrids of
monarchy and republic - do not be taken aback, you are in an Arab country.

"When you find that the members of parliament are nominated [by the ruler],
or else that half of them are nominated and the other half have bought their
seats through bribery… - you are in an Arab country…

"When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less
- do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When you see that the authorities chop off a man's hand for stealing a loaf
of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions - do not be
too surprised, you are in an Arab country…

"When you are forced to worship the Creator in school and your teachers grade
you for it - you can be sure that you are in an Arab country…

"When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their
eyes - you are in an Arab country…

"When a boy learns about menstruation and childbirth but not about his own
[body] and [the changes] it undergoes in puberty - roll out your prayer mat and
beseech Allah to help you deal with your crisis, for you are in an Arab country…


"When land is more important than human beings - you are in an Arab country…

"When covering the woman's head is more important than financial and
administrative corruption, embezzlement, and betrayal of the homeland - do not
be astonished, you are in an Arab country…

"When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their
rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse - be upset, you
are in an Arab country…

"When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time -
bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.

"When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot -
place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country…

"When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged
off and buried in a dark prison - you are in an Arab country…

"When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people - you can be certain
that you are in an Arab country."


 




Endnotes:
[1] This is an allusion to the Seven Mu'allaqat, famous
sixth century odes which, according to Arab legend, were hung in pre-Islamic
times on the walls of the Qa'ba in Mecca.