Prior to Hillary Clinton’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2010, the then-secretary of state’s aide, Huma Abedin, contacted her mother about reviewing a draft of a speech that was to be given during a town hall meeting at a women’s university in Jeddah.
Abedin’s mother, Saleha Abedin, an Islamist activist who teaches at Dar Al Hekma, responded that the speech needed “major edits and corrections,” including the removal of references to “freedom,” “democracy,” and the “empowerment of women.”
The speechwriter for Clinton, who has built her brand on those very pillars, appears to have taken the advice. Clinton’s remarks contain none of the terms flagged by Saleha.
The revelations come in emails obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has sued the State Department for the emails of Clinton, Abedin and other Clinton aides.
The email thread begins on Feb. 12, 2010 when Clinton’s speechwriter, Case Button, contacted Abedin to review a speech that Clinton was to give at Dar al Hakma several days later.
“This document needs major edits and corrections,” Saleha Abedin wrote in response to her daughter’s request for help.
She then provided Huma with a list of five corrections for the speech, all of them pushing back against the ideals of democracy and freedom.
“Do not use the political terms such as ‘democracy/elections/freedom,'” Saleha instructed her daughter, Judicial Watch notes.
The other suggestions included:
“Do not use the term ‘empowerment of women’ instead say ‘enabling women.'”
“Do not even mention driving for women!”
“Don’t sound sympathetic to ‘women’s plight’ or be ‘patronizing’ as other visitors have done and made the students extremely annoyed. They rightly consider these as in-house issues.”
In a press release announcing the release of the emails, Judicial Watch noted that Clinton’s speech included none of the terms that Saleha flagged. The rough draft of the speech is not included in the documents provided to Judicial Watch.
The emails don’t show exactly why Huma Abedin and the Clinton team decided to accept the speech revisions. The U.S. government is allied with Saudi Arabia, even though the Islamist regime is one of the most oppressive in the world. Clinton had financial reasons to not embarrass the Saudis. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has donated at least $10 million to Clinton’s family charity, the Clinton Foundation.