In Saudi Arabia, it's not everyday that you can start a discussion about human rights and end it with a none-sarcastic smile, or a shrug of unimportance. Last week's events, fused with what social media is becoming in Saudi, was a spark of change towards a different direction. Might not be as evolved as many would hope, or even in a pace where many can describe as "safe" or "rational", but this direction did not exist 5 years ago. Now, its there to admire, meditate on, and for a handful some, to fear. How much room we give it to grow is pretty much up to us, not anyone else.
If you followed my tweets, blogs and the news, you might've heard of The case of Samar Al Badawi and her not-so-pleasant brush with the Saudi now-in-reform judicial system. I can't, in anyway, say that the system is fully corrupt, but it sure needs some revaluation. The same revaluation the king is initiating, to fix some of the loose gears that cause more immediate damage than expected damage. The system does work, in its corky glitchy pace, but it's still working. I don't need to print out documents to prove it's effect (or lack thereof), Samar's case is a clear show of that. Moreover, it exposed the stigma between society and how it relates to a system that is supposed to watch over them.
One sentence that became famous over her Twitter hash tag, "who watches the watchmen".
When law is taking place, isolated from the public eye/opinion/action, there can't be a measure on how well the system works, or how badly it doesn't. Social media broke part of the barrier, allowing the harmless what-I-ate tweeter to see through the cracks. From the twitter reactions, some liked what they saw, some didn't, and many of both chose to do something about it.
People took matters into their own hands and they did what they can do. To many, it was nothing more but "spreading the word". I can still remember the first reactions from many who chose to shrug off the mere "share on facebook" actions as dead-on-arrival approaches that won't affect real life. In Saudi Arabia, the Internet doesn't really link back to reality. To many, if not the same, Internet is actually an escape from reality. Then again, those who believe that who we are online should not change what think and believe in, sparked change, resulting in a rather interesting approach.
For once, and this is part of why am spelling my thoughts, expressing your opinions in any way you can can truly mark the little difference many choose to neglect and ignore, for the sake of other louder actions they seem to be in pursuit of. Change, however, does not happen suddenly, it needs ingredients, an oven, and thinking-time to cook it over.
Not to be as a change tool, but to be a visible expression of what kind of change we actually seek. To better our lives, and those around us, sticking to what you believe in is key. Not many seem to realize this, and hopefully, Samar's story should be an indication of what lies ahead of determination.
This is a good start, by all means.
In record time, Samar's case had it's share of Internet prime time, 3 days later, official reaction from the story's "protagonists" was received. By the end of the following week, reconsideration of the case's status took place. And as many hoped, and according to Samar's lawyer, she's now a free woman.
Take the time to absorb that in, because if it's an indication of anything, it's a clear direction to what reform in Saudi should focus on, what we (as law abiding citizens) should focus on, and what the government should focus on.
It's the transparency of our flaws that help us change them, concealing the flaws will only backfire, no matter how pure the intent is.