Women to Protest Driving Ban in Saudi Arabia

Despite its vast oil wealth and the measures the kingdom has taken to buy off potential dissidents, Saudi Arabia is nevertheless not completely able to escape the citizen activism of the Arab Spring. In the kingdom’s case, however, the charge is being led by Saudi women who have mounted a facebook campaign for the right to drive. On Friday, activist women plan to simply defy the Ministry of Interior rule and get behind the wheel. The page is Wome2drive, and there is also a twitter feed.

Activists have also been using Youtube:

Opposition from Saudi males is strong, and they have threatened on facebook to beat women who dare try to drive.

Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country that does not permit women to drive, based on a fatwa or legal ruling of a Wahhabi clerical authority who has been dead for a decade. Gulf societies have strong taboos about unrelated women and men mixing, deriving from their tribal and pastoralist background rather than necessarily from Islam. Ironically, however, Saudi women are often forced to rely on unrelated men as chauffeurs, and some have alleged they were raped.

Many women cannot afford chauffeurs, and the regulation interferes with their educational and professional opportunities.

CNN reports:

5 Responses

  1. If you’re so concerned about Saudi women driving, where’s your concern for Iranian and Afghan women being stoned, Egyptian and Congolese women being raped, Indian women being sold into marriage, and Muslim women treated as objects under Sharia Law?

  2. Will the Administrations great friend, the house of Saud, have the police conduct “virginity tests” on these outlaws?

  3. Maybe no one was stoned today.
    Juan does write about other women’s issues in the mulim world, just not today…

  4. I want to see a scientific poll documenting what most Saudi women think about the driving ban. Until then, I will pay no attention to what the media, academics, and activists say on this topic.

    While the Saudi driving ban may not fit my personal values, it is up to the Saudi people (including Saudi women) to structure their society as they see fit, and to change their society or let it stay the same as they see fit. Foreigners like me should come down from their high horse and mind their own business.

    Behnam

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