Saudi Woman Dies After Her Daughter Is Rejected From University

UPDATED ON 7/28/2015:
After a meeting with an investigation committee that was formed by the Saudi Minister of Education, Faisal Al-Hwaity said to Makkah newspaper that his daughter has been accepted to join the University of Tabuk’s medical college. But he demanded that the committee continues investigating why his wife died on campus.

Screen shot of video showing Mrs Al Omrani arguing with the university admission's office before her death

Screen shot of video showing Mrs Al Hwaity, left, arguing with the university admission's office before her death

A grief-struck Saudi mother literally dropped dead at a university campus which refused to admit her daughter into its medical school. The video, which shows the mother arguing with the University of Tabuk's admission's officers, has gone viral, sparking a discussion on both mainstream and social media about the university's cold reaction to the issue.

Rahma Al-Hwaity and her husband, Faisal Al-Hwaity, went to the admission of University of Tabuk to ask why their daughter's application was refused when they applied to medical school, Makkah newspaper reported.

“I will either die victorious or be struck with grief,” Rahma Al-Hwaity told an admission adviser, shows the video that was shared on YouTube.

You can watch the video below:

Before her death, Mrs Al-Hwaity threatened that she would stage a sit-in outside the campus. Minutes later, she died from a heart attack while waiting for her husband to finish his meeting with admission consultants.

The University of Tabuk said in a press release that the woman's death had no link with her daughter's admission.

The press release included the certificate of Al-Hwaity’s family and what colleges they applied to. It shows also that Al-Hwaity daughter’s, whose name was not mentioned in any coverage, put computer science as her first choice. In Saudi Arabia, when you apply to a university, you have to choose 10 majors in order of preference. If you are qualified for all of them, you will be accepted to the first major you choose.

Faisal Al-Hwaity accused the University of Tabuk of changing his daughter's choices, adding to Al-Hayat newspaper that he had evidence.

A spokesperson of Ministry of Education said the minister ordered for an investigation committee to be formed to reveal the reasons behind for rejecting Al-Hwaity’s daughter in medical school although they passed the requirements, according to a statement published via Facebook.

The Tabuk woman's death was discussed widely on Twitter under the hashtags #جامعة_تبوك (The University of Tabuk) and #الام_اللتي_ماتت_قهرا_في_تبوك (The mother who died from grief in Tabuk). The hashtag forced the situation to be discussed in Saudi media, TV and newspapers. It also showed how people are divided, but most of them were sympathetic to the family.

Dr. Manal Meccawy, who teaches at King Abdulaziz University, said on Twitter:

God have mercy on her soul, but universities are not managed by emotions. The university’s statement is convincing … the father wants to vent his sadness.

Another Saudi author, Barjas Albarjas said:

Some people defend error not because they are in favor of it, rather they are jealous of systems riddled with errors.

A cartoon describing the situation was also widely shared on social media. The caricature shows two trying to enter a manager's office. The gate-keeper is Wasta, or well-connected person who can help get to wherever you want. The man with excellent academic credentials is refused entry while the one who barely passed his exams is welcomed by Wasta:

This is what's happening in our society. Despite this, some will side with the perpetrator of injustice

From Jeddah, Dr Fawaz Al Ayesh wants to know who is responsible for what happened to Mrs Al-Omrani and what penalty he will face:

This is now a national issue. We should know who was behind it and what is the penalty he would face.

Saudi sociologist Amani Alshalan has a message to the daughter:

My message to the daughter: You have to be a great daughter to win a victory for your mother by getting into a medical school to make her dream come true

And Riyadh-based Dr Ali bin Shareeda, an academician specialised in language learning, says if there was any wrong-doing, someone had to be punished:

If she had the right to get into medical school and was wrongfully not admitted, then the school's dean and dean of admission and registration should be put on trial for corruption and unintentional murder

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