Two Humans Got Married; Racism Wasn’t Invited

photocreditbbcIf it was good enough for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to marry a foreigner, why isn’t it good enough for you? Prophet Muhammad’s Mixed And Interfaith Marriages: Safiyyah and Maria

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When Saudi Women Marry Foreigners
By Alma Hassoun and Lamia Estatie
BBC Trending
6 June 2016

“This is how racism falls”. These are the words of a Saudi man who attended the wedding of his relative, a Saudi bride who married a non-Saudi groom.

Perhaps the man did not know that the very short clip he posted on Twitter – supposedly showing part of the wedding celebrations – would spark a nationwide social media debate covering the kingdom’s social politics, racism and women’s rights.

The clip – whose provenance we could not verify – shows men dancing in a circle, with a traditional Syrian chant heard in the background, apparently marking the union of the Saudi woman and her Syrian beau, supposedly in the Saudi city of Medina. More than 50,000 people have used the hashtag “a woman from the Harb tribe marrying a Syrian man in Medina”. The tribe to which the bride belongs, as well as the nationality of the groom were the major points of contention in the virtual debate.

Some comments on social media were jubilant at the thought of an inter-country marriage: “What happened tonight in Medina is a good example of the Quran verse ‘Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you,'” was one message.

Others discussed the consequences of marrying ‘foreigners’.

“It is her right to marry whom she chooses, but she can’t come later and shout that her husband and children are foreigners and demand that the nationality is given to them. Think well before you take such a decision,” wrote one tweeter.

We know very few details about the couple in question, although the video seems to indicate that they had the blessing of those in attendance.

Many congratulated the couple, expressing their support for the marriage as a means of combating racism and promoting equality between Saudi men and women: “The most important thing is that he is a Muslim. Say ‘no’ to racism. The law should be equal to both man and woman…”

Others pointed to a discrepancy in attitudes towards the different sexes: “It is fine for a Saudi man to get married to a foreign woman, while the opposite case is forbidden. You wouldn’t make a fuss if a Saudi man was the one marrying a foreigner”

There are examples of interracial relationships in the Koran. And one tweeter gave examples from the time of Prophet Mohammad to show that intermarriage was accepted.

“Bilal bin-Rabah al-Habashi [a companion of the Prophet, who came from the country that is now known as Ethiopia] married Hala, from the Quraysh tribe [one of the most respected Arab tribes which controlled Mecca]. Islam took away these ignorant and racist traditions and you are resurrecting them,” wrote a Saudi architecture student.

Many Saudis were angry that the hashtag was even created to discuss such a personal event. However, many others brought to the fore notions of the superiority of some groups over others. Here are a few of the comments we saw.

“Marriage is a whole life; so it is a big mistake for a Saudi girl to marry a foreigner, a ‘Syrian’ specifically.”

“I wish that she becomes the last Saudi woman who marries a foreigner.”

Another Twitter user wrote: “This is not racism. If you have an authentic and noble steed, would you throw her onto a mule? [No], you would maintain her lineage.”

Saudi laws do not prohibit men and women from marrying outside their nationality, but those who choose to do so have to adhere to certain regulations. Similarly, the process of seeking official approval is often lengthy and drawn out.

Dr Hatoon al-Fasi, a Saudi academic, told BBC Trending that one of her female relatives married a non-Saudi and the process took around 18 months as the groom went through “a long check list.”

She also added that if the couple have children they will not have Saudi citizenship. Dr Al-Fasi said: “Only sons have the right to apply for the Saudi citizenship when they turn 18”. However, the children of Saudi women and foreign fathers get similar treatment to Saudi children in education and other sectors in the country, she added. However every year thousands of Saudi women marry non-Saudis from both Arab and non-Arab origins.

Dr Al-Fasi added that tribal divides within the country were an “increasing phenomenon in the Saudi kingdom”. She said that although the Justice Ministry dropped “incompatibility in lineage” as a legitimate reason for divorce, judges are still divorcing Saudi women from their non-Saudi husbands, in absentia, on these grounds.

Due to a system of guardianship of women in Saudi Arabia, relatives, including uncles, are able to get a woman divorced on the grounds that they have have married “outside their lineage”. Last April, a woman claimed in a video that she was forcibly divorced from her Saudi husband on that basis. Although the Saudi authorities later denied this, saying that incompatibility in lineage is not enough reason to grant a divorce.

Photo Credit: BBC

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Saudi Woman Married To American Endures Racism

photocreditarabnews
Nawal Al-Hawsawi

It is a shame that racism and tribalism exist in a Muslim country. Prejudice towards a certain race or tribe has no place in Islam. Its ludicrous when a woman who helps empower others is put down for her appearance and background. But you can’t hold a good woman down! May Allah grant Nawal the strength to fight the good fight ameen.

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Black Saudi Woman Activist Faces Death Threats
By Hussam Al-Mayman
Arab News | Riyadh
5 January 2016

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.”

Photo Credit: Arab News

Children Of Saudi Mothers And Non-Saudi Fathers Counted In Nitaqat System As Long As Mother Is Alive

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Ahmed Al- Humaidan

New Labor Policy Hits Children Of Non-Saudi Fathers
By Abdul Rahman Al-Misbahi
Okaz/Saudi Gazette
Jeddah
28 December 2015

The children of Saudi women from non-Saudi husbands will not be considered as citizens in the Nitaqat program after the death of their mothers, the Labor Ministry has announced.

“These children carry Iqamas (residence IDs). The ministry considers them as Saudis as long as they are under the sponsorship of their mothers,” Deputy Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan said.

When the mother dies, her offspring from a non-Saudi father will automatically lose the privilege of being Saudi citizens in the Nitaqat program, he said.

The deputy minister said the presence of these children in the Kingdom after the death of their mother does not concern the Labor Ministry.

“This is a matter that should be decided by the Interior Ministry,” he added.

There are 700,000 Saudi women who are married to non-Saudis, representing around 10 percent of the overall population, according to a Ministry of Justice report issued in 2012.

According to a 2011 report issued by the Ministry of Labor, Yemenis ranked first among foreign men who married Saudi women, followed by Kuwaitis, Qataris, Syrians, Emiratis, Egyptians, Lebanese, and Pakistanis. According to the report, eight Americans, seven Brits and Europeans, and three Turks married Saudi women in 2011.

A decree issued in 2012 gave Saudi citizenship rights to children of Saudi women married to foreign men. According to the decree, the state will pay for the residence fees of children who are half Saudis but from foreign fathers and will allow them to work in private sector companies. The children will be treated as Saudi citizens in education and medical care and will be included in the Saudization program in the private sector.

Photo Credit: Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Women Married To Non-Saudi Men In Dire Straits

photocreditarabnewsSaudi Women Married To Foreigners Urge Govt To Solve Their Problems
Arab News | Jeddah
6 March 2015

Ali is sure that he will pack his bags to leave the Kingdom at the end of this year and head to the United States or a European country to enroll in the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, where the Ministry of Education will take care of his expenses for the whole period of his studies. His cousin Basem is packing too, but to go to Egypt to join military service, now that he is turned 18.

For some people this can sound strange, but the reality is that Ali was born to two Saudi parents, while Basem has a Saudi mother and an Egyptian father. Their paths will eventually separate, and Basem’s situation (having a Saudi mother and a foreign father) can’t even be compared to the years before the late King Abdullah issued decrees giving rights to Saudi women who are married to foreigners.

Many Saudi women married to foreigners said the law still doesn’t fathom their situation and hasn’t done them justice, just because they are women, which increases their burden. Many women in this situation claim that the common thought in the Kingdom is that they are being punished for marrying a foreigner.

The demeaning glances, even though they are less intense now, are accompanied by verbal comments, women say. Most of them who made the decision of marrying foreigners looked for family stability, which should be guaranteed by the system for everyone in the country, whether man or woman.

The number of Saudi females married to non-Saudis currently stands at 700,000, representing around 10 percent of the overall population. The Ministry of Justice issued a report in 2012 stating that the number of Saudi women who marry foreigners is on the rise.

The report revealed that 13,117 Saudi women married foreigners in 2012, a much higher number compared to the 2,583 Saudi men who married foreign women the same year.

Rawan, who married a non-Saudi in 2008, describes her life as chaotic. Her suffering is embodied in the fact that she has to cross the border to renew the visa. She often pictures herself as lost between borders, living in a tent in the desert. “I can’t count the number of times I traveled from Saudi Arabia to Dubai, to renew my husband’s visa, under the title husband to Saudi citizen and the father of a Saudi citizen,” she said.

During her pregnancy, she had to travel to Dubai for one day, and it was impossible to board the plane when she was eight months’ pregnant. “I had no choice but to go through land ports and then to the embassy. This coincided with the Haj season, and the embassy doesn’t renew visas at that particular time,” she added.

Rawan’s suffering wasn’t limited to issuing a visa, which can only be renewed three times, she also fought to register her son in kindergarten. “I suffered while looking for a kindergarten prepared to take my child without a residency visa, and all of them stressed the importance of bringing his residency ID before he finishes kindergarten,” she added.

She describes her situation as sad and funny at the same time, pointing to the guardianship issue. “Before my father died, he was my guardian, and now I am married but my brother is my guardian. He is the one who finalizes my travel permit procedures, not my husband.

After I got married, I received a marriage contract with the following statement written on the periphery, ‘It is essential to go to Civil Status Department to transfer her name to the husband’s register.’ When I went to Civil Status Department, they told me I need to bring my husband’s residency visa number to be able to transfer my name to my husband’s register,” she said.

Rawan’s suffering echoes with the other 700,000 Saudi women married to foreigners. They said decisions issued by the late King Abdullah works in their favor and eases their suffering, but the system doesn’t consider them as citizens. For these women, one of their saddest realities, is the fact that they can’t give their children the nationality even though they live in their country.

In recent years, Saudi children born to foreign fathers were able to study in government schools and universities, but they won’t be allowed to enroll in the scholarship program. They have the right to work and be treated like Saudis when calculating Saudization rates, but at the end of the day he isn’t a citizen, unlike Saudi children born to a foreign mother and a Saudi father. They have the right to get aid from the labor Ministry’s Hafiz program, but they don’t have the right to receive nationality, in addition to the problems surrounding the iqama.

Photo Credit: Arab News

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Taking A Saudi Woman As A Second Wife

Wa alawhatdoyouwanttoknowikum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Yes, it is allowed. I have been a witness to this type of arrangement where the brother of a Saudi woman helped her get permission to marry a non-Saudi whose first wife was also a non-Saudi. So your Saudi should go with her brother to the emarah and apply for the marriage permission. Please note that if you choose to marry a Saudi woman, any children born to the union will not have Saudi citizenship and neither will you ever be able to obtain it. To get a better idea of the issues resulting from this marriage choice, peruse the category, Saudi Women Married To Non-Saudis/Foreigners. Best wishes!

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Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I have been through your blog and found it very useful.

I have started communication with a Saudi woman, who would like me to take her as a second wife.

She is 35 years old (which I have seen makes thins easier) and her father has passed away. Although she does have a brother and mother who is supportive of her decision.

I know that the process is long but would this be even acceptable? Are non Saudi men allowed to take a Saudi woman as a second wife?

Thank you

Dual Nationality For Saudis Is Forbidden Without Permission From Ministry Of Interior

forbiddenKingdom Does Not Allow Dual Nationality
Arab News | Jeddah
30 October 2014

The Kingdom does not allow dual nationality, said Mohammad Jasser Al-Jasser, spokesman for Civil Status.

However, the citizenship of a Saudi female will not be revoked if her husband alone obtains a foreign nationality.

“The Kingdom will cancel the citizenship of any Saudi citizen who obtains a foreign nationality without prior permission of the Interior Ministry,” Al-Jasser said.

He added that Saudi citizenship will be taken away from any Saudi citizen who is in the ranks of military in any foreign government, without the authorization of the Saudi government. The same applies to citizens who work for foreign governments in a current state of war with Saudi Arabia.

“According to the nationality system of Saudi Arabia, dual nationality is not allowed in compliance with Article 11, which stipulates that no Saudi citizen is allowed to obtain a foreign nationality without prior permission of the Council of Ministers. If a citizen obtained a foreign nationality before acquiring the permission, the government still retains the right to revoke the person’s Saudi citizenship in accordance with Article 13 of the nationality system,” he explained.

He added that, in the case of a Saudi citizen who has obtained a dual nationality, his Saudi wife will not have her citizenship right revoked, unless the wife decides that she too will follow the new citizenship of the husband, with the approval of the Minister of Interior on the matter.

“Underage children — minors — will lose their Saudi citizenship when the father’s nationality changes, and will take the chosen nationality of the father in compliance with the special regulation of nationality system. Despite this, they can restore their Saudi nationality in the first year of their adulthood,” he confirmed.

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To All Saudi Spouses Of Americans And Half-Saudis With American Nationality…This Is A Must Read!

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September 15th, 2014 at 11:28 comment at the end of the below article by Virginia La Torre Jeker J.D., says: “…We will all see in time just how much trouble FATCA causes. One of my Arabic-speaking clients told me yesterday that the Arabic word for “Destroy” or “Destruction” sounds very much like “FATCA” in pronunciation. Interesting….. and perhaps, foretelling?”

Thank You, FATCA, You’ve Just Left Me Stateless
By Virginia La Torre Jeker J.D
AngloInfo: The Global Expat Network (Dubai)
Let’s Talk About: US Tax
15 September 2014

Multiple Nationalities – Caught in the Big FAT(CA) Trap

There is no international law or convention that determines an individual’s nationality or citizenship. One’s nationality is strictly a matter of the laws of a particular country. For example, a country can grant citizenship by descent (usually from a parent or a grandparent). The nationality laws of the United States are found in various citizenship and nationality statutes such as the Immigration and Nationality Act, some provisions of which bestow citizenship based on descent. US nationality is also based on the principle of “jus soli” (the law of the soil). “Jus soli” is a rule of common law followed by the United States, under which the place of a person’s birth determines his citizenship. In addition to common law, this principle is embodied in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution which states, in part, that: “All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Depending on the particular laws of the various countries involved, a person can have multiple citizenships. Multiple citizenship can arise precisely because different countries can and do, have different rules governing the criteria for citizenship with the result that the individual may satisfy the citizenship requirements of more than one nation at the same time.

Having multiple citizenships can sometimes cause problems since one country’s laws or policies might conflict with the other country. Some countries prohibit their citizens from holding dual or multiple citizenships. This prohibition can be enforced by requiring the individual who applies for naturalization in that country to renounce all existing citizenships. It can also be enforced by stripping citizenship from an individual who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another nation, or by other means.

Many GCC countries do not permit dual nationality – for example the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait.

FATCA – Root of All Evil?

By now, just about everyone has heard of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, “FATCA”. FATCA has turned the lives of Americans living abroad completely upside down. It has resulted in many banks, both US and non-US, denying financial services to the estimated 7.6 million overseas Americans; decreased employment and investment opportunities for US persons and has been cited as one reason that so many are now giving up their US citizenship. Ultimately, it is said, it may result in weakening the position of the US dollar as the global reserve currency and causing significant harm to the US economy.

Closer to home, FATCA has had other unexpected consequences. Many of my Middle Eastern clients obtained US citizenship by happenstance of being born there while their parents were temporarily studying or working in the US. Others obtained US citizenship when living in the US for educational purposes. Those who left the US (many as infants) and returned to their homeland were clueless about their US tax obligations until their banks told them about FATCA. Many persons coming to me for help are very frightened and do not have a strong grasp of the English language. How on earth do I explain to such people that the mutual fund they hold in their home country is treated as a “foreign” mutual fund by the US and is really a dreaded US tax creature known as a “PFIC”?

Or that the pension plan set up by their employer in the country where they live and work might be a “foreign trust” for US tax purposes and that they should have been filing annual information returns or paying tax on the contributions and investment build-up?

Many do not have Social Security numbers (SSN) and are trying to obtain them simply in order to file US tax returns. They are learning the hard way that obtaining a SSN is extremely difficult to do after one has attained the age of 12. Some individuals are flying to the US in the hopes the process might be more expedient than dealing with the few Consulates or Embassies overseas that can process the SSN. If one resides in the Middle East, the specified Embassy for obtaining the SSN is located in Jerusalem, which isn’t accessible to Arabs due to escalating political tensions in the region. Becoming tax compliant is far easier said than done for many of my clients.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Not only are many desperately struggling to become US tax compliant, many GCC nationals are becoming quite concerned that their government will learn they hold a prohibited “second” nationality. Under FATCA, foreign financial institutions must agree to verification and due diligence procedures – meaning they must be on the look-out for customers, owners or beneficiaries evidencing any “US indicia”. They must identify and report directly to the US Internal Revenue Service or to their own government via an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), information on US account holders. FATCA will help expose GCC nationals who hold US citizenship by a financial institution’s transmission of that information directly to the home country government agency responsible for gathering information under the IGA. America, in its quest to root out tax cheats, has now put many of its own innocent citizens in a very perilous position.

This fear of detection seems particularly acute right now in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, Saudi citizenship can involuntarily be lost if a Saudi citizen obtains a foreign citizenship without the prior permission of the Prime Minister. See Articles 11 and 13 of the Saudi Arabian Citizenship System.

A recent news article in the Saudi press entitled “ American FATCA pursues 200,000 Saudis…and the Civil Status Department Threatens to Pull their Citizenship” offers some insight. Translated below are some of the more relevant portions of the article:

“In addition to the “strict” US tax system, Saudi laws are no less strict when dealing with dual nationals, even if these laws have not yet been actively enforced. Civil Status Department Spokesman Mohammed Al-Jasser said: “When dual nationality is discovered, the laws of the Saudi Nationality will be strictly applied. Article 11 of the regulations states that ‘no Saudi may have/acquire a foreign nationality, without prior authorization from the head of the Saudi Ministers Cabinet, and whoever has/acquires a foreign nationality without getting such advance permission, will remain Saudi, unless the Government of his Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia sees fit to strip him of the Saudi nationality”.

Article 13 provides that “By Decree, in any case, Saudi Arabian nationality can be stripped from Saudis, if they have any other nationality in violation of article 11 of this regulation”, stressing that “Saudis would be notified of the consequences of such actions, a legal notification, three months prior to the execution date of the Decree of the loss of Saudi Arabian nationality”. Under the provisions of this article “the liquidation of the property of the person who lost his nationality, in accordance with the legal system of property ownership, and be denied residence in the territory of the Kingdom and barred from any return to it”.

Many of my GCC dual national clients are now looking at renouncing their US citizenship. Many more thought they had already given up their US citizenship years ago when they took on, say, Saudi citizenship (usually after marriage to a Saudi national) and pursuant to Saudi law specifically renounced their US citizenship at such time. They are now learning, many years later, that this might not have been enough and that they are still US citizens because they did not give notice to the Department of State that they had the intent at that time to give up their US citizenship. They never obtained that critical document called a Certificate of Loss of US Nationality (CLN). If they try to get the CLN now with a retroactive relinquishment date, they will have to demonstrate they had the intent to relinquish US citizenship at that earlier time. This is often a very difficult burden to meet.

Many of my Saudi clients, for example, live in limbo – they are unsure of their legal status and unsure what may happen to them under the citizenship laws in their homeland that prohibit dual nationality. If they give up their US citizenship, what will happen if the Saudi government strips them of their retained nationality at a later time, once it learns of the transgression? They will be stateless and can be denied residence in the country they viewed as home. I also understand that all assets there can confiscated by the government. The consequences of FATCA could not be more far-reaching than this.

Follow me on Twitter: @VLJeker

by Virginia La Torre Jeker J.D.,. Find out more about Virginia La Torre Jeker J.D., here.

Photo Credit: AngloInfo

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