Refleksi: Kalau ditanah Suci wanita sibuk dengan hal-hal 
demokratisasi, tetapi wanita Indonesia kelihatannya mundur berpenglihatan 
"menerimo saja". Benarkah observasi saya?

            Thursday, 14, April, 2005 (05, Rabi` al-Awwal, 1426)

                  Saudi Women Are Making Strides: Crown Prince
                  Raid Qusti, Arab News 
                  RIYADH, 14 April 2005 - Crown Prince Abdullah said that Saudi 
women have started entering the mainstream of national life and hoped that 
social attitudes toward them would change for the better in less than five 

                  He also said Saudi Arabia is working on achieving true 
democracy - democracy that we want and aspire for - in the next 20 years. 

                  Asked by a French female journalist from Le Monde newspaper 
when a Saudi woman would be able to meet him and conduct an interview with him, 
the crown prince replied: "In a period less than what you have to go through 
here. Saudi women have entered the mainstream. They now work in banks and in 
the public sector. With time, their attitudes and those of their husbands will 
develop and that could take less than five years." Asked by Le Monde how Saudi 
women complete their higher studies, become academics, doctors, and scientists, 
and yet have to be under male guardianship, Prince Abdullah said: "Guardianship 
reflects our concern for protecting women's rights and their dignity. At the 
end of the day, woman is the sister, mother, and wife."

                  Crown prince's comments were welcomed by citizens.

                  In the interview, the crown prince described the National 
Dialogue Forum as a "great achievement" saying that it brought the different 
social segments of Saudi Arabia together. 

                  "We have benefited greatly from these forums. They have 
brought together the different segments of Saudi society that were not used to 
meeting one another. Saudis have now become brothers. And that itself is a 
great achievement," he said.

                  The crown prince described terrorists in Saudi Arabia as "the 
enemies of Islam, humanity, and the human race," stressing that the Kingdom is 
determined to eradicate terrorism even if it has to combat it for the next ten, 
twenty or thirty years if necessary. He also said that fighting terrorism also 
entailed fighting its financial roots.

                  "We first asked them to return to logic and sanity but they 
refused and continued to wreak havoc. That is why we needed to fight terrorism 
by means of force.

                  "But at the same time, we stress the importance of 
eradicating what terrorism feeds on - money laundering, smuggling, and drug 
trafficking - as we have mentioned in the Global Anti-Terror Conference," said 
the crown prince.

                  Commenting on the UN report issued by some Arab academics on 
the status of democracy in the Middle East, he said: "Democracy is part of our 
Islamic faith. Let me ask you a question: 'How old is democracy in your 
country? And how long did it take to reach its present stage?' We too will get 
there by the grace of God."

                  "What is important is justice, equality, and respect of human 
rights. All of these elements are endorsed by our religion. Not just our 
religion, but all heavenly religions, whether it is mentioned in the Quran, the 
Bible, or the Torah," he added.

                  On where he thinks Saudi Arabia will be after 20 years, 
Prince Abdullah said: "Only God knows. We are working on implementing true 
democracy, the democracy we want and wish for. I hope that can be achieved in 
the next 20 years."

                  Commenting on the measures taken by the Kingdom to fight 
joblessness and poverty, he said the number of jobless people reported by the 
press was an exaggeration.

                  "The papers have inflated the number of jobless Saudis to one 
million. However, after investigation, it was revealed that the number was 
between 200,000 and 300,000. Half of them have already found jobs, and the 
other half consist of a segment that is not competent and has refused the jobs 
we offered."

                  "We are not diminishing the role of the media. Its role is 
not just to criticize for the sake of criticism, but to push for reforms and 
help the unemployed find jobs," he added.

                  About his expectations of his current visit to France the 
crown prince said that he was looking forward to meeting his friends in France, 
the people and President Chirac, who he described as "a dear friend".

                  He commended the French leader saying he is known "for his 
integrity, moral values, humaneness, candidness, and warm feelings for others".

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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