I began the “Sweet September” series with a wonderful woman called Susan Boyle and I am now finishing the series with ‘Salaam’ to some ‘Luminary Lubnas’ who have fascinated me.
Here is Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein of Sudan. Oh, yes you read the name right, Sudan indeed! She, a journalist was detained under the Sudanese criminal code for “sensational dressing up.” oohh sensational dressing up, what was she wearing, a bikini, a thong, see through sheers, you ask..? Actually, she was fully clothed, head to toe, from the head scarf you see in the picture to loose fitting shirt and trousers leaving only parts of her hands bare. But according to the law of her land, she committed an offense.
Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein is on trial for wearing trousers in public. The offense is Clause #152/1991 of the Sudanese criminal code, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 lashes. Ten of the 12 other women picked up with her in a restaurant chose to accept 10 lashes, but Lubna and two others asked for a lawyer and started to speak out.
Rather than accept this oppression, she stood up for her rights and her courage drew an international outcry. Her trial was very much followed by the international community. A judge later convicted her of public indecency and fined her $200 while sparing the lashing. She, however, refused to pay the fine and went willingly to prison for a month for not complying with the judgement. She was released after one night’s stay in prison.
Lubna went to the trial and to the prison wearing the same trousers that she wore when she was charged. And when asked why she chose to fight back, she replied,
This is not a case about me wearing pants. This is a case about annulling the article that addresses women’s dress code under the title of indecent acts. This is my battle!.
…. and for that, Salaam Lubna Ahmed!
Another shining Lubna is Sheikha Lubna Khalid al Qasimi, the Minister of Abu Dhabi.
She has the distinction of being the first female government minister in the country’s history. She long ago broke through the glass ceiling as CEO of Tejari.com, a rapidly expanding regional e-commerce exchange headquartered in Dubai. She is a popular speaker on women’s issue, Islam and internet commerce and is one of the Current 100 Most Influential Women in the World, and rightly so!
From within the parameters of her traditional and religious confines, she has found the courage, intelligence and spirit to break through the binds and for that Salaam Sheikha Lubna !!
That brings me to yet another luminary who fascinated me, Lubna Olayan of Saudi Arabia.
Olayan, is CEO of Olayan Financing Co., responsible for 40-odd companies throughout the Middle East. The estimated family worth is more than $10 billion. Her position as a major private investor gives her substantial influence in the Kingdom. Unfazed by the plunge in the Saudi stock market in 2004-05, Olayan Financing continued to reinforce its presence. It teamed with Credit Suisse to open a brokerage firm in Riyadh, it became a major shareholder in Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost airline. Olayan also sits on several boards worldwide, including advertising and PR giant WPP, Europe’s leading business school INSEAD, and the Arab Learning Initiative. She is also a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, and the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
She lives in Riyadh with her family and also finds time for several charitable organizations. Again for breaking through several traditional and religious practices and for being a role model for many young women in veil, Salaam Lubna Olayan!!!.