‘Rosa Parks’ of Saudi Arabia drops racism case

Nawal AlHawsawi said she accepted and apology and is now friend with her assailants

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A Saudi female pilot has dropped a racism case against three women who called her a “slave” after they apologized to her, she told Al Arabiya News in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Nawal AlHawsawi took her grievances to court after the women verbally attacked her, with at least one of them calling her “abda,” a derogatory term meaning “slave” in Arabic, during an event celebrating the Saudi National Day at a shopping mall in Makkah last September.


“I am very happy how the legal proceedings have developed; I was very fortunate because I was able to reach a resolution with the three ladies and received an apology from them,” AlHawsawi said after her appearance on MBC1’s 8PM with Dawood al-Shirian.

“Believe or not we are now actually good friends. The best blessings come through adversity.”

AlHawsawi said that her father did not want her to pursue legal action against the women and instead wanted her to forgive them for calling her “abda.”

“My intention was to see what the verdict would be and did not want the judge to go through with the ruling, and informed my lawyers that I was willing to forgive them before the judge issued the ruling,” AlHawsawi added.

“The turning point for me through the course of three months and numerous attempts at apologies was when one of the women told me that God punished her, her husband divorced her and she has been going through a lot of trial in tribulations in her own personal life since the incident,” she said.

“I looked in her eyes I felt bad for her because we all make mistakes. I stood up and hugged her and cried for a long time because I didn’t know what to say,” the Saudi pilot said.

Her husband David McCarthy confirmed that his wife did not want the women to be punished for their racial slurs. He said she wanted them to learn that racism is hurtful and wrong.

The couple said they were satisfied with the Saudi justice system and compared their experiences with their time in America.

Al-Husawi said she was the victim of racial discrimination in the United States as well, but she could not pursue legal action there because calling someone 'the N word' is protected under freedom of expression.

A believer in the power of social media, al-Husawi started an anti-racism campaign on Twitter using the word "abda" as a hashtag to raise awareness in the kingdom.

She is also in the process of forming a non-profit organization called the “Adam Foundation” to raise awareness against racism.

She said the women who attacked her are now members of her campaign.

AlHawsawi has been named the Rosa Parks of Saudi Arabia by local newspapers.

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