You might think it absurd that a woman driving a car is news. But then this is the absurdity known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, now frantically trying to censor video clips of Manal al-Sharif driving. An apparently government-supported online drive is under way to beat women caught driving, and al-Sharif (this is her, to the right) is being held in detention for “inciting public opinion” and “disturbing public order.”
That is, for driving while female. DWF. A crime.
Watch the Al Jazeera report here. Check out the newly replicated Facebook page here. Read al-Sharif’s instructions for the June 17 ‘drive-in’ protest here on Saudiwoman’s Weblog.
And then consider the far greater absurdity of the continued existence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which refuses to extend the most basic civil rights (even the vote) to half its population, and whose wealth and power is entirely fueled by the Western thirst for oil. An intensely repressive Middle East regime, that is, funded directly by Western money.
But that’s only the surface. This Western oil money is still funding the worldwide Saudi export of the most conservative and repressive form of Islam. If there is one single country that has enabled violent Islamism, it’s not the perceived enemies of the United States like Libya, Afghanistan, or Iran, but our “good friends” the Saudis — our oil dealers.
The Saudis thought they had escaped “the Arab spring.” They sent their military into Bahrain to help squelch protests there. They encouraged the violent suppression of protests in Yemen. They thought they had things under control.
But another kind of Arab spring may now be in the making. An Arab summer, perhaps. Six months ago, a single Tunisian street vendor couldn’t take it any more and sparked a revolution by setting himself on fire. Now a tech-savvy Saudi woman refuses to take it any more and threatens to spark another revolution by simply taking the wheel.
This is how it starts — with individual acts of defiance, with a refusal to knuckle under, with an insistence on basic dignity. And with the support of a vast and unsquelchable online community.
The links are above. Go to it, everyone.
Its good Saudi Arabia doing that which help people in the world to understand and find true Islam.
In fact nothing wrong with woman driving, just Saudi Arabia want to destroy Islam by this way! but its very helpful for the people think. in a lot of Islamic country woman driving car even van and airplane. but in wahhabism thought NO. they not Muslim, they are anti-Islam, and anti human.
Really, this is intrior issue for saudi people..
U R not saudi, so why you are talking about ?
Every social has thier own traditions, may you know how they save thier family.
so just keep away from us 🙂
Does that ‘us’ include Manal al-Sharif? Does it include all Saudi women? Does it even include all Saudi men?
And why, precisely, should I not comment?
Lesley, I am a Saudi man and I am a supporter of the women right to drive (and so many other rights), actually i think it is stupid law to ban women from driving. However, I do not encourage my female family members to disobey it, simply because it is the law no matter how stupid it is. so in this context I think what manal did is wrong; she broke the LAW. what she should have done is: ask for changing the law through the legal channels. and now if you ask me should we change the law and allow women to drive I would say no, at least not this year. because that would encourage anybody: just go to the street, break any law that you do not like, get the support from all over the world, and there you are: you made it. there are some people who are looking to make weed legal in the US, are they out there smoking weed in public to make it legal? is this the right way to do it? absolutely no. On the other hand, It is purely internal issue, it is up to the society to decide. I was against banning women from driving (and i will be again in the future) but i did respect the opinion of the majority (even women majority). this bring us to how we make the law anywhere in the world. what is right and what is wrong? believe me, people from different parts of the world have different views, what you think is right is not necessary right in the eyes of a group of people in Nigeria for instant. you have to respect that. Did you ask your self how did the goverment in Saudi made this law? it is a long story and i am happy to tell it if you wish.
to answer your question: why should you not comment, 1. because it is purely internal issue (no saudi has the right to comment on an internal issue in the US)
2. you do not know the circumstances related to enforce this law in the first place and the issue of 1991 and the issue of conflicting parties in Saudi regarding this issue and so many others.
3. and believe me when i say that: you are making it harder to us (supporter of the women right to drive) to change the law any time near in the future, and the more you interfere the harder you make it.
Abdulrahman, it sounds like you’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place.
If I understand you right, you’re essentially saying “of course the law is nuts, but now’s not the time to change it.” But to quote an ancient saying: “If not now, when?”
You’re saying that open discussion will only make things worse. But isn’t that another way to suppress speech and thought?
You’re saying that we must respect the law. But law is not carved in stone. When it’s manifestly wrong — segregation laws in the American south in the 50s, for instance — it needs to be broken, and those with the courage to do so both need and deserve our support, wherever we are.
2 – also YES
3 – also YESSS
4 – I just told that ” U R not saudi ” citizen !!
it is me again, aha, after posting my last comment i checked you on wikipedia. and i would like to say that my last comment was based on the assumption that your article was just a pure support for the human rights. now after reading about you I think that you are going to criticize this country no matter what. so my comment was a huge waste of my valuable time.
To the best of my judgement, allowing Saudi women to drive will be a negative change in Saudi society because of the high potential for them being grossly mistreated and harrassed, in more ways than you can imagine, by the general male public. That is why the “Saudi Society” is fearful of allowing it. This fact is acknowledged by most opposers as the real reason for continuous ban on women driving and it is why the majority of Saudis do not want it so as to protect their women.
Correction: This scenario is acknowledged by most opposers as the real reason for continuous ban on women driving and it is why the majority of Saudis do not want it so as to protect their women.
“Their” women? See my latest post “The Virginity Test.”
Please do not perceive my thoughts as contradictory (on one hand, I say the people want to ‘protect’ their women while on the other hand I warn of the potential ill treatment of these same women by the same ‘general public’). Unfortunately, ME societies suffer from high levels of ignorance, hypocricy, lack of education, misconception and non-implementation of the true values of Islam, and the list goes on . . .
Yes, “their” men. Likewise, us men are “their” men. Considering who you are and where/how you were brought up, you may never understand the nature of social relations in an Eastern, not necessarily Islamic or Arab, society. And considering you have much insight into the Arabic language, explore the word Haram (حرم)
It is down to the root thing – men’s power over women whether it is driving a car or abortion. And everything in between.
I lived in Saudi for 3 years and on the door of every mosque there is a long poster with fatwa at the top being the one denying women the right to drive in the name of religion. I have read my Quran and there is nothing in there that belittles the freedom of women in any form. I used to cover my head not knowing it was based on fatwa as such. I read the Quran and found it say “covers” should conceal parts of the body not “head covers.” Many things unfortunately are legislated in the name of God and God is innocent of these crimes against women. I stopped believing in man made interpretations. What you did Lesly with your explanation of “heaven” and how male interpretors have imposed their sexist thought doesn’t deviate from many forms that we still have to deal with as women brought up in the region. I’m Egyptian and no longer believe in these male dominated laws. I believe in The God of Muhamed, Jesus and Moses. The one who created us all equal. I pity those men for what they have done they brought war upon us, stifled the lives of women and worst of all they completely misunderstood God.
Sooory.. Lamiaa you mixed the truth with mistakes.. Really, you have read (alnoor) chapter
وليضربن بخمرهن على جيوبهن
or you just say that when wrtting cmmnts?
Other point, where are those long poster?
The men in saudi arabia are save thier women. And if women drive cars that not mean our real problems were finished.
Again and again, this is an intorior issue not a global.
At the end, they fail. Next time all people will help women to drive. But this time it is BIG fail 😛
You sound so pleased. But you are wrong. Ideas cannot be repressed for ever. The number of women driving on Friday may have been in the dozens instead of the thousands, but wake up and smell the roses: soon it will be in the thousands and hundreds of thousands. It seems clear enough that a large percentage of Saudi women no longer want to be ‘saved’ by men, and much prefer the idea of doing the ‘saving’ themselves. Then, perhaps, the women will do better than the men at tackling the mountain of other problems you refer to in Saudi Arabia. They certainly can’t do much worse.
What are you afraid of? How is a woman not driving honoring Allah? It is sad that you take joy from the sorrow of others.
Dear Aboulhasan, the verse you wrote doesn’t state women should cover their heads it states they should use their covers over defined body parts there is no mention of heads any where and I personally don’t think common issues are internal. I believe issues relating to woman should concern women and women only should be consulted in matters that concern them. unfortunately we live in a world where interpretation is an exclusive arena for men or few women who walk in the footsteps of men and are deprived of speaking for themselves. I believe Allah gave men, women and all creatures abilities to use them and live a productive easy life but man is stifling the lives of women putting restrictions on the breath they take. I know it is hard to accept ideas that challenge conventions but you are given a tongue then you are meant to speak..
Women in Islam have equal rights as that of a man. There is no single verse in The Glorious Quraan which states females are inferior to men. They should be given equal rights in each and every field.
But its sad to know that people nowadays, in the name of religion, make and impose rules as per their understnding and their wish.
And mr. Aboulhasan, do not mention the verse of The Holy Book if you dont know the meaning of it. Coz little knowledge is very dangerous!