Saudi Arabia granted a robot citizenship, giving it more rights than Saudi women

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Saudi Arabia gave a robot that once said it wanted to “destroy humans” more rights than its own citizens.

The humanoid named Sophia became the first robot in history to be granted citizenship at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Oct. 25. The decision sparked a backlash, with people furious that a female robot achieved more rights than millions of women and refugees in Saudi Arabia.

Many pointed out that Sophia was presented at the conference not wearing the traditional dress required of Saudi women. No hijab. No abaya. The Hanson Robotics-made humanoid was also not accompanied in public by a man. According to Saudi law, women are required to have a male guardian—a father, brother, husband, or even son—who make decisions on their behalf.

Some of the things women aren’t able to do by themselves include apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study abroad, get married, or exit prison.

On Wednesday, the sarcastic hashtag #صوفيا_تطالب_باسقاط_الولايه or  #Sophia_demands_the_repeal_of_guardianship started trending on Twitter.

Others, including actress Rosario Dawson, noted the robot was granted citizenship when refugees around the world are being turned down. Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticized over the past few years for failing to help refugees fleeing Syria. Amnesty International claimed in a 2014 report that the Gulf countries—Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain—offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.

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Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed on Tuesday at the conference to return to a moderate Islam and “obliterate the remnants of extremism very soon.” Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it would allow women to drive, abolishing a longstanding rule and symbol of the country’s repression.



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