Female Saudi Athletes – Out of the Olympics, Into the Twitter Storm

This post is part of our special coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.  

After stepping out of the Olympics, the first and only Saudi female athletes in the history of the Saudi sports, Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shahrkhani have received a storm of reactions on the Saudi twittersphere.

After emerging last in the women's 800 metres, Sarah received a good round of applause from the audience – and her name became a trending topic on Twitter.


Below is a sample of support tweets from Saudi Twitter users for both athletes:

"It's not the winning but the taking part" #SaraAttar 1st female Saudi athelete to compete ever! #olympicmoments - Twitter comment by @DIAstyle, who shares this photograph on Twitter

It's not the winning but the taking part #SaraAttar 1st female Saudi athelete to compete ever! #olympicmoments – Twitter comment by @DIAstyle, who shares this photograph on Twitter

Ali Khadra writes:

‏@aykcanvas: It's not always abt gold! What u did is far greater. Thank u #SaraAttar #Wejdan #Wijdan. Thank u #KSA. Better late than never #2012Olympics

Bader Aljehani beams with pride:

@BooDzJ: #SaraAttar We are proud of you and Wejdan more than anyone in the Saudi Team!

Sara Attar is a global trend :) #SaraAttar, writes @WordWizard on Twitter. He also shares this screen shot

And Nada Abu makes a promise:

@NadaAbu: You’ll see me on the screen a winner one day. Thanks for the inspiration #SaraAttar http://twitpic.com/agw7nn

You disgraced us!

On the other hand, some Saudi Twitter users were against the participation of the two athletes, blaming their families and authorities for allowing them to ‘drag down’ the Kingdom's name and reputation.

Among them in this Twitter user, Faisal Abuthnain, who writes [ar]:

@FaisalAbuthnain:سارة عطار تتوقعين الي يصفق لك او يشكرك على إنجازك الكبير؟ بل فرحة بكسرك لخصوصية مجتمعك وتعاليم دينك ونصائح عقلائه وتمردا على حجابك!!
Sarah Attar, Do you think your supporters support you because of your huge accomplishment? No, it is because you broke your society's rules, your religion's teachings, the advice from the wise people in your society and your Hijab regulations!

ZaibB was shocked of what he read on the hashtag dedicated to the two athletes and complains:

@ZainB:مسكينة #وجدان_شهرخاني دخلت الهاشتاق فوجدتها تتعرض لثلاث انواع من العنصرية: ١- العنصرية المناطقية ٢- العنصرية القبلية ٣- العنصرية ضد المرأة

Poor Wijdan! All I read in her hashtag were three things: 1- Regional racism 2- Tribal racism 3- and Sexism

Dr. Mahammad Albarrak is critical:

@mohamdalbarrak:أشد من فعل المنكر أن يدافع الإنسان عنه ويعتبره معروفا ويحاول جاهدا أن يبحث له عن مبررات مثل الذين يدافعون عن #سارة_العطار و #وجدان_شهرخاني

What is worse than committing a sin is praising it, like those who are trying to defend Sarah and Wojdan and find excuses for their actions

Finally, Nourah is trying to justify:

@noura_aljadaan: For everyone who is laughing at #SaraAttar don't forget that schools here don't teach girls sports so going there is an accomplishment

This post is part of our special coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.  

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  • […] citizen voices on Saudi's first female Olympic athletes, Tajikistan's female boxer who fought all odds to win a bronze medal and Brazil's sexist […]

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