Nawal al-Hawsawi has been described as many things in the media — a black woman, married to a white person — but perhaps the thing of greatest prominence that often comes after these qualifiers is that she is a trained pilot from Saudi Arabia (still) a place where women are not allowed to drive cars.
Owing to her confidence and the inspirational life she leads, Nawal al-Hawsawi has accrued over 50000 followers on Twitter; but many of them hate her because she spreads messages of love, hope and acceptance — on marriage equality and racial diversity.
al-Hawsawi has time and again been subject to racial slurs, abuses and derogatory comments. At an event celebrating Saudi's National Day in 2013, al-Hawsawi while shopping with her family was pushed and verbally abused by another woman. According to Arab News, she was called a slave — a term used in Arab culture to degrade and offend people of darker skin. al-Hawsawi was determined to see this through and filed a lawsuit against the woman (which she recently withdrew). She is quoted as saying, "This is a golden opportunity to challenge stereotypes and raise awareness to change this attitude in our culture"
Two years down the line and things are not all that better for al-Hawsawi who suffers abuse on social media on a daily basis. However, al-Hawsawi does not wish to withdraw from the public forum and instead wants to use 'love' to spread awareness. According to a feature on BBC, al-Hawsawi recieves pictures of gorillas, photoshopped African tribes people from her haters on a regular basis.
BBC reports that, in fact, al-Hawsawi who grew up in a cosmopolitan part of Saudi Arabia, had not considered herself or had been so acutely aware of her own race till she went to the US, where she had to define her race clearly to the customs officers. al-Hawsawi learnt how to fly and became a certified pilot. However, she cannot fly a plane in Saudi Arabia. She also learnt marriage counselling there, met an American man and married him.
al-Hawsawi continues her fight on Twitter with the many abusers and has sent the messages she receives to the ministry of the interior.
First Published On : Jan 11, 2016 16:18 IST