Not A Pretty Picture

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 31 2012 @ 5:08pm


Karen House dampens the excitement over Saudi women competing in the Olympics for the first time:

The truth is that the participation of the two women athletes is little more than a sideshow, a distraction from the challenges faced by millions of other women back home in the kingdom, where the government continues to enforce the Wahhabi Islamic doctrine that just as man must obey Allah, woman must obey man. The attempted diversion is very cynical—and very Saudi. As this story went to press, in fact, the Saudi women’s presence in London hadn’t even been mentioned in the state-controlled media. …

This year’s two-woman team needed a special invitation from the International Olympic Committee because Saudi Arabia failed to hold any qualifying trials for women. In fact, physical education is banned in most girls’ schools. Some international schools do have teams for girls, but religious authorities often shut down their competitions even when the only spectators are females. Women’s sports are generally regarded as a waste of time at best—and at worst, a slippery slope to decadence.

Earlier coverage of Saudi oppression against female athletes here.

(Photo: Sarah Attar of Saudi Arabia enters the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012. Attar is one of the first female athletes to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics. By Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)