JAFFA, Israel – Saudi Arabia’s Academy of Education and Public Consultation sparked controversy on Arabic social media when it scheduled a workshop under the title “Are women human beings?”
Numerous Twitter users criticized the organizers of the workshop, who publicized it with the hashtag #are_women_human_beings, in response to which one woman wrote on Twitter: “This is the ugliest hashtag I have ever seen on this site.”
This is the ugliest hashtag i have ever seen on this site #هل_المراه_انسان
— N (@ClothAlert) March 1, 2016
“Are women human beings?” cried another. “They’re our crown jewel. They’re our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, neighbors. God save us from bad things and from these hashtags.”
#هل_المراه_انسان يابعد حيي هي تاج روسنا
امك اختك بنتك زوجتك جارتكم مزنه الله يحفظهن ويرعاهن ويفكهن شركم وشر هاشتاقاتكم المتخلفه
— عاطف المسمار (@AtefAlmsmar) February 29, 2016
“Lowly men treat others as lowly, for the simple reason that their lowliness affects their eyesight,” wrote another.
الشخص الناقص يراك أقل مما أنت عليه لأن النقص الموجود فيه يشمل حتى عينه!
رفع الله قدرهن
— تركي السيف (@alsaif__n) February 29, 2016
“The world moves on and we go backwards,” lamented a Twitter user.
الناس يتقدمون ونحن نرجع للوراء بالله شوفوا اسم الدورة هذي
هل المرأة انسان؟ pic.twitter.com/yim2Bc9LqP
— عبدالله العقيل (@Abdullah_akeel) February 28, 2016
Some Twitter users, however, opted to defend the workshop and its organizer, Fahed Elahmadi. “In 586, Christian clergymen convened in France to debate the very same question,” wrote Abdulelah.
— عبدالإلـــه ! (@AbdulelahMS) February 28, 2016
But Aziz replied: “In the Middle Ages, Europeans decided that women are men’s property. … Today they head their states.”
في القرون الوسطى في اوروبا اجتمع الكهنة ليناقشوا موضوع هل المرأة إنسان؟ و أتفقوا على أنها من ممتلكات الرجل .. واليوم المرأة ترأس أكبر دولهم.
— Aziz ع (@AzizHonor) February 28, 2016
A female TV journalist for the Al Arabiya network interviewed Elahmadi, who presented himself as a PhD in psychology and a family counselor, and challenged him about his credentials and skills. Elahmadi ducked her questions, and claimed that the workshop was meant to highlight women’s distress.
He said only that he attended prestigious academic institutions in Saudi Arabia and abroad before the line was cut off.