An open letter to Chrystia Freeland

Arab News 13 August 2018


Dear Hon. Chrystia Freeland.
I would like to start by sharing with you the story of my mother, which I am sure you will not see on Twitter. My mother was deprived of her basic education for no reason but her gender. Her eldest daughter was not only given the opportunity for education, but she became a teacher and later a school principal.

Furthermore, her granddaughter not only had the chance for university education, but also received a full government scholarship for her master’s and Ph.D. abroad.
I am telling you this as an illustration that is indicative of how progress is going in Saudi Arabia. I am confident that, if you search on the subject, you will find many stories similar to this.

As you know, Saudi Arabia, just like many other countries, including Canada, has its share of political and social issues. But rest assured that Saudi Arabia, just like Canada, is working on them at its own pace, and has made very remarkable progress. You may not appreciate what has been made, but the majority of Saudi people do, and they are happy about it — that is what matters, is not it?
Furthermore, Saudi people are fully aware that overcoming their internal issues cannot and should not come from Ottawa.
Any social scientist will agree that social change usually comes from one of three sources: Government initiatives, government responses to people’s demands, or government reactions to external pressure. The latter is the worst because it is counterproductive. It also supports the arguments and the discourse of those who oppose change on the grounds it is just to please the West and is not in the Saudi people’s best interest.
On the other hand, I will suggest that you save all your eagerness for activism till you leave your current job and go back to what you are good at: Journalism. As a member of the Canadian government, you have a lot on your plate to attend to and solving Saudi Arabia’s internal issues is certainly not one of them.
I hope, by the time you read this, the dust of the crisis you have just created has started to settle down, and you have come to your senses to rethink what you tweeted. The position of a minister of foreign affairs does not entitle anyone to call for an immediate release of prisoners in another sovereign state. Let alone if they do not have a complete picture and all the valid information on the cases. Ministers of foreign affairs do not rely on social media.
Please accept my best regards.

Ibrahim Al-Beayeyz is a Ph.D. academician.

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