Thursday, November 29, 2012

Imprisoned Widener Alumna to Speak at Alma Mater

Rula Al-Saffar, the former president of the Bahrain Nursing Society who was imprisoned for treating injured protesters during Bahrain’s Arab Spring, will speak at Widener University on Thursday, December 6 at 1 p.m. in Founders Hall Room 109. The event is free and open to the public.

Al-Saffar, who graduated from Widener in 2000 with a master’s degree in nursing, was one of several doctors and nurses imprisoned in Bahrain following that nation’s Arab Spring protests in February 2011. Al-Saffar claims she was tortured and threatened with rape during her four months in prison before a hunger strike and the assistance of Human Rights First aided in her release from prison.

In September 2011, she was convicted in a military trial on a slew of charges including incitement to overthrow the Bahraini government. Stripped of her positions and unable to work, her future was uncertain until June 2012 when a civil court overturned her conviction. Many of her colleagues, however, were not so fortunate.

Through it all, Al-Saffar has remained outspoken and unbowed, becoming an internationally known figure for her bravery in the fight for justice for her colleagues. Earlier this year, Arabian Business Magazine ranked Al-Saffar 11th on its list of the world’s 500 most influential Arabs.

Al-Saffar authored an op-ed piece published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in June 2012 about the situation in Bahrain, and she was featured in the fall 2012 issue of Widener Magazine.

A breast cancer survivor, Al-Saffar founded the National Association for Cancer Awareness in Bahrain, and has served as an inspiration to all women suffering from the disease. She also served as assistant professor at the College of Health Science in Manama, Bahrain.