Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As Saudi Women Meet Clinton, No Talk of Rights


JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clintonspoke to young women at a Saudi women’s college here on Tuesday, the site of a spirited exchange five years ago with a female official of the Bush administration over the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed autographs at the Dar al-Hekman College on Tuesday in Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

But despite Mrs. Clinton’s invitation to raise the issue, none of the women in the audience asked her about it. The discussion, while lively, focused on the same foreign-policy and security themes that have dominated her visit to the Persian Gulf, notably Iran and the Middle East peace process.

Mrs. Clinton said she wanted to hear the views of the students on women’s rights, noting that “American media presents a very unidimensional portrayal of Saudi women,” focusing on the black veils most wear.

None of the students picked up on Mrs. Clinton’s observation about how the American media portrays Saudi women, which had been a point of contention when Karen Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy in Bush administration, visited this college in 2005.

In that session, Ms. Hughes raised the hackles of some in the audience when she said the image of Saudi Arabia in the United States had been tarnished by the country’s refusal to allow women to drive.

SOURCE : The New York Times

Published: February 16, 2010

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