The frank comments are typical of this twice-divorced mother of six and graduate of Islamic law. Raised a devout girl in a large tribe where she tended sheep, al-Shammary is now a 42-year-old liberal feminist who roots her arguments in Islam, taking on Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious establishment.
She has paid a price for her opinions. She spent three months in prison without charge for “agitating public opinion.” She has been barred by the government from traveling abroad. Her co-founder of the online forum Free Saudi Liberals Network, blogger Raif Badawi, is serving a 10-year prison sentence and was publicly lashed 50 times. Her father disowned her in public.
None of it was enough to keep her quiet.
“I have rights that I don’t view as against my religion,” says al-Shammary. “I want to ask for these rights, and I want those who make decisions to hear me and act.”