Friday, June 17, 2011

Driving campaign for Saudi women challenges custom

From Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN

CNN) -- Saudi women have been encouraged to challenge the status quo and get behind the wheel Friday.

The initiative is called "Women2Drive," a campaign demanding the right for women to drive and travel freely in Saudi Arabia.

Though there are no traffic laws that make it illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, religious edicts are often interpreted as a ban against female drivers. One female motorist spent more than a week in custody in May, supporters said.

The day was expected to be a test of wills, and authority, between police and the campaign, which has been publicized by Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

A Riyadh man who went out to document what would be an unusual scene in Saudi Arabia said the streets were typically empty for a Friday morning, but that there were many fewer police officers than in March -- when online organizers had called for mass demonstrations.

Saudi women protest driving restrictions

Saudi women in the driver's seat

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"I'm thinking that the government is turning sideways," said the man, Ahmad Alafaliq. "They don't want to see it, they don't want to deal with it."

A Saudi woman told CNN her mother drove her and her sisters down Riyadh's main street on Thursday.

The woman, who asked not to be named because she was worried about harassment and possible reprisals, said no one bothered them.

"This is important for women here -- this is one of our rights," she said.

Authorities stopped Manal al Sharif, 32, for driving a car May 21 and detained her the next day. She said she was forced to sign a form promising not to drive again and spent a week in jail.

Al Sharif has not been charged, but the case remains open and she may be called back, according to human rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair.

In an interview with CNN before her detention, al Sharif said she was determined to speak out.

"We have a saying," she said. "The rain starts with a single drop. This is a symbolic thing."

A Facebook page called "Women2Drive 17th June," includes a banner that reads "We are all Manal Sharif," and a quote from King Abdullah stating that "the day will come when women will be able to drive."

The same page offers some guidelines on participating in the driving movement, such as asking women to keep wearing a hijab, or head scarf; not gathering in the streets; waiving the Saudi flag to show their patriotism; having a male present in the vehicle and driving within Riyadh's city limits.

Hundreds of women joined the campaign to begin driving Friday. Some women with international licenses, such as al Sharif, began driving earlier.

"It's very important to drive because it is a basic right," said Nadya Khalife, a Human Rights Watch women's rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa. "The freedom of movement is a basic right. Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans driving for women."

Khalife said what separates this campaign from other efforts to get women to drive is the degree to which it has relied on social media.

Khalife said the deterrents to women getting behind the wheel have been "a whole mix of things."

"They're up against society as a whole," Khalife said. "Some women may even face harassment or pressure from their families. Some women have clearly been in support, but others are saying they don't want to 'shame.'"

Khalife noted that some men have been supportive of their daughters, wives and sisters taking part in the driving campaign.

Alkhair, speaking Thursday from London, said he encouraged his wife to drive in Jeddah on Friday.

"I think after what the police and the interior ministry did to Manal al Sharif, a lot of women became afraid," he said. "The Interior Ministry has put a lot of police on the street. They want to send a message to all women."

Osamah Alluaidan, an opponent of female drivers, posted on Facebook, "It is not a sin for women to drive but when women drive and disobey the Kingdom's guardians, that's the problem, this is unacceptable."

Strict segregation by sex means women in Saudi Arabia can't travel without a male relative or take public transportation. Many women hire expensive drivers or taxis to get around.

Since al Sharif's detention, several Saudi women have uploaded their videos onto the web.

Amnesty International said Saudi women should be allowed to seek more freedoms.

"Saudi Arabian authorities must stop treating women as second-class citizens and open the kingdom's roads to women drivers," the organization said.

Source: CNN News

1 comment:

ecks why said...

allah approved misogyny is one of many severe problems with islam which is dangerous no matter how it is packaged...

the twin fogs of political correctness & ignorance must be dispersed before western society better understands this menace. even a brief review of islamic theology & history quickly exposes the deadly roots of this evil ideology.

see the links in the pdf version below for more accurate info about islam

islam is a horrible ideology for human rights

5 key things about islam

1. mythical beliefs - all religions have these (faith) because its part of being a religion: having beliefs without proof until after the believer dies. the problem is people will believe almost anything.

2. totalitarianism - islam has no seperation of church and state: sharia law governs all. there is no free will in islam: only submission to the will of allah as conveniently determined by the imams who spew vapors to feather their own nests. there are no moderate muslims: they all support sharia law.

3. violence - islam leads the pack of all religions in violent tenets for their ideology & history: having eternal canonical imperatives for supremacy at all costs and calling for violence & intimidation as basic tools to achieve these goals.

4. dishonesty - only islam has dishonesty as a fundamental tenet: this stems from allah speaking to mohamhead & abrogation in the koran which is used to explain how mo's peaceful early life was superseded by his warlord role later.

5. misogyny - present day islam is still rooted in 8th century social ethics: treating females as property of men good only for children, severely limiting their activities, dressing them in shower curtains and worse.

conclusions ??

there really are NO redeeming qualities for this muddled pile of propaganda.

islam is just another fascist totalitarian ideology used by power hungry fanatics on yet another quest for worldwide domination and includes all the usual human rights abuses & suppression of freedoms.

graphics version

1 page pdf version - do file/download 6kb viewer doesn't show fonts well, has better fonts header footer links, great for emailing printing etc