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Zainab Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (Arabic: زينب عبد الهادي الخواجة) was born in 1983 in Bahrain. A courageous prominent pro-democracy and human rights activist and participant in the Bahraini uprising, she rose to prominence after posting tweets online about the protests under the name AngryArabiya. Al-Khawaja promotes the Bahraini protest movement internationally via her Twitter feed, written in English as well as for protesting her father Abdulhadi Alkhawaja's detention during his hunger strike. As of November 2012, she had just under 48,000 followers. She is married to Wafi Al-Majed, and they have a 2-year-old daughter called Jude. Her father is Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and former director of the Middle East-North Africa region for the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders' Front Line. Her sister is married to Mohammed Al-Maskati, the president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
In April 2011, Alkhawaja went on a ten day hunger strike to protest the arrests of her father, her husband, and her brother-in-law Hussain Ahmad. She said that even though she had a one year-old daughter, she would prefer death to living under the current Bahraini government:
"If my father is going to be killed, I want to die as well. We've always been taught by my father that dying with dignity is better than living as slaves".
She has also criticized the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama for having "stood behind the dictator". Along with two other women, she was detained for seven hours on the 15th June 2012 after trying to hold a sit-in at a United Nations office. After her arrest she held onto her cellphone in the detention center, where she continued to post updates to her Twitter account such as,
"I think the UN might have misunderstood us - we wanted the release of political prisoners, not to join them". Commenting later on the arrest, Al-Khawaja stated, "Our goal was never to get home safe, but to get protection for all political prisoners in Bahrain."
On the 26th of November 2011, an American journalist witnessed and photographed Al-Khawaja standing her ground alone in front of oncoming riot police vehicles. He reported that tear gas shells were being fired just past her head, but because of her notoriety, riot police officers were ordered not to remove her from the road, forcing them to advance their vehicles by an alternate route. On December th, however, she was arrested following a sit-in near Manama which was dispersed by riot police. She later told Amnesty International that she was beaten while in custody. On the 21st of December, she was released on bail, but was eventually charged with illegal public gathering, "showing contempt for the regime", and "assaulting a police officer".
She was arrested again on the 12th of February 2012, as she tried with other female demonstrators to reach Manama's Pearl Roundabout. While the twelve women who were arrested with her were released on the 20th of February, she remained in detention and was charged with illegal gathering of more than five people and participating in an illegal march. Amnesty International designated her a prisoner of conscience being detained solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression and assembly, and called for her immediate release. She was released from detention on the 21st of February. She stated she had not been mistreated while in detention, attributing it to the Bahraini government's fear of bad media, rather than being due to the respect of prisoners rights.
Al-Khawaja's father began a hunger strike on the 8th of February 2012 which, as of the 11th of April, had lasted for 63 days, leading to fears for the deterioration of his health. Appeals on his behalf were dispatched from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the U.S. State Department, and Amnesty International. In April 2012, Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested twice more for protests against her father's ongoing detention. The first arrest occurred on the 5th of April following a sit-in at the offices of the Interior Ministry. On the 21st, she was arrested for sitting on a highway close to the Financial Harbour in protest. She was formally charged with disrupting traffic and insulting an officer. On the 23rd, her detention was renewed for another seven days. Amnesty International called for her immediate and unconditional release, stating that she had been detained solely for exercising her rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
In late September 2012 a court in Bahrain sentenced Al-Khawaja to two months in prison. She had been found guilty of destroying government property, which her lawyer said related to her ripping up a picture of the king. Following Wednesday's court ruling in Manama her lawyer, Mohammed Al-Jishi, had hopes she might be released fairly soon because she had been in custody since the 2nd of August while awaiting trial. Her father, Abdulhadi, is among eight activists and opposition figures who now have been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state. Earlier in the month of September they had lost an appeal against their convictions by a military tribunal. In June of 2012 Bahraini police wounded her by shooting her in the leg with a tear gas canister. Yousef al-Muhafedha, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said he saw police use a gun to fire the canister at Zainab al-Khawaja at close range after anti-government protesters gathered in the village of Buri southwest of the capital of Manama a day earlier.
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to starta new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats.. take a look