- By James DownieJames Downie is an editorial researcher at FP.
Back in February, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah appointed Noura Al-Faiz as deputy minister for education, the highest post a woman has ever reached in Saudi government. The appointment was hailed far and wide as a sign of Saudi Arabia reforming its government and its stance of women’s rights – TIME Magazine even named al-Faiz to its TIME 100. But perhaps that excitement came prematurely:
Noura al-Faiz today confounded advocates of greater equality when she said she could not appear on television without permission.
"I don’t take my veil off and I will not appear on television unless it is allowed for us to do so," she told the daily Shams newspaper, which published a picture of Faiz wearing a headscarf with her face showing.
She also dismissed calls for girls to be allowed to do sport at school. "It’s way too early," the paper reported her as saying[…]
At the time she said she was confident her appointment was not tokenism and that other women would be appointed to government jobs. Sceptics wondered, however, whether the new minister would wield any real power, or whether she would suffer the fate of other women who had been appointed to lower councils and sunk without trace.
Perhaps TIME should have reconsidered when they could not find a photo of her to use for their feature (Google only found a blurry picture of her photo in a Saudi paper).