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Nawal al-Hawsawi

Lighting a candle

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Rosa Parks’ faces torrent of abuse over Twitter

By WITW Staff on January 12, 2016

Nawal al-Hawsawi, a black Saudi Arabian marriage therapist with a pilot’s license and a white husband, has been facing a deluge of racist abuse and harassment from internet trolls in response to her efforts to promote racial diversity and marriage equality over Twitter. Al-Hawsawi became famous in the country after she was verbally attacked by another woman who called her the A-word, an Arabic racial slur with the meaning of “slave.” Al-Hawsawi took the woman to court before receiving an apology and dropping the case. The story made national headlines, and al-Hawsawi was dubbed the “Rosa Parks” of Saudi Arabia by the country’s media. She used the coverage to begin an anti-racism campaign on her Twitter, amassing almost 50,000 followers. But she also drew the ire of internet trolls, whom she believes are mostly far-right conservatives based in Saudi Arabia.

“I represent everything that they hate, everything that they stand against. I’m a Saudi woman who married a foreigner. They’re anti-American. My husband is white, I’m black. They condemn interracial marriages. They say women shouldn’t have jobs, so to see a woman who can’t just drive a car but has a pilot’s licence is unacceptable,” says al-Hawsawi. She has sent a collection of the abusive messages to the ministry of the interior, but attempts to track down the abusers have thus far proved fruitless.

Read the full story at BBC News.