By Andy NGO – SAUDI ARABIAN STUDENTS STUDYING IN PORTLAND SHARE HOW THE STRICT POLICIES OF THE WAHHABI KINGDOM REACH FAR BEYOND THE GULF.
“Even if you change my name, I’m afraid they’ll find out who I am,” Mutab said as he attempted to calm himself by drinking his favorite Arabic tea, Alwazah, or “swan.”
“If my government finds out I am an apostate, I could be jailed when I go home,” Mutab said. After a pause he added, “Or I could be killed.” Apostasy is the act of leaving one’s religion. In traditional orthodox interpretations of Islam, the penalty for apostasy is imprisonment and death.
The Vanguard’s multimedia editor, Andy Ngo, interviewed Mutab, Faisal, and Noora, three Saudi Arabian nationals studying in Portland. For their protection, the Vanguard has changed the names of the three interview subjects.
Mutab and Faisal are students at Portland State University. Noora attends another educational institution in the area but asked that its name not be printed.
As of fall 2014, Saudi Arabia had the largest number of international students at PSU with 442 students. China had the second-largest number at 375 students.
PSU’s relationship with Saudi Arabia spans decades. The Kingdom’s current crown prince, Mohammad bin Nayef, attended PSU from 1977–80.