Saudi Arabia: A couragious woman drives in Jeddah

Najla Hariri is taking to the roads in Jeddah. After driving in Egypt, Lebanon and Europe she found it too ridiculous not to be able to go anywhere with two cars but her husband and eldest son away. Although she does not want to be at the vanguard of change she feels she has no choice. She has the full support of her husband.

Najla Hariri says she was inspired by the protests taking place elsewhere in the Middle East.
“Enough is enough”, she told the BBC as she drove around the city. “I have the right to [drive].”
Ms Hariri holds a driving licence from both Egypt and Lebanon from her time living abroad, and also has an international licence that she uses when she drives in Europe.
”In this society I am a little bit brave – I am not scared. There is no law against women driving. It’s society’s [convention] that says women are not allowed to drive.”

Opponents of women driving argue that it’s safer for females to have a male in the car with them, and that they are honoring their women by sparing them the strain of driving.

“They are lying to themselves,” replies Ms Hariri forcefully. “It is safer for women to drive themselves. We have four million foreign drivers [in the country] and we’d like to get rid of them and drive ourselves.”

Ms Hariri admits she did not want to be at the vanguard of efforts to give women more freedoms.
She returned to Saudi Arabia two years ago and was tempted to start driving immediately.
She found herself stuck at home with two cars but no driver, as her husband and eldest son were both away. “But I waited for the right time; I waited for other ladies to [go first],” she says. As no-one stepped forward, she has decided that now is the moment.
“Before in Saudi, you never heard about protests,” she says. “[But] after what has happened in the Middle East, we started to accept a group of people going outside and saying what they want in a loud voice, and this has had an impact on me.”

A Facebook page is encouraging women to come out and drive on 17 June. Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. Other women are pushing for the right to vote in municipal elections scheduled for September, while there are also calls for women to get permission to sign legal documents.
Aalia, a 19-year-old university student, is co-ordinating some of the online reform efforts.
“We are focusing on spreading the word, raising public awareness,” she says. “Women here don’t know their rights.”

Naturally there is a backlash to the fact that Saudi Women want to drive their own cars.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a Saudi cleric, dismissed the campaign, saying statements he makes about religious issues that are posted on websites have received more than 24,000 page views in a day.
The plan is “against the law, and the women who drive should be punished according to the law,” al-Nujaimi said in a telephone interview. Driving causes “more harm than good” to women, because they risk mixing with men they aren’t related to, such as mechanics and gas-station attendants, he added.
“Women will also get used to leaving their homes at will,” al-Nujaimi said.

Over the years clerics have put forward the reasons why women should not be allowed to drive. These are:

    • removal of hijab (face veil)
    • loss of modesty in women
    • women leaving their homes, driving around because they enjoy driving
    • women rebelling, they may go out of the house and drive to place where they can find peace. As young men do, but young men are able to put up with more than women.
    • driving is a cause for fitnah, immoral men will take advantage of her when she is in need of help
    • When women drive it leads to overcrowding in the streets, or it deprives some young men of the opportunity to drive cars when they are more deserving of that.
    • it will cause the fitnah to flourish, because women will buy a new car because it’s a new model or because they will be the first one to drive it.

On Saturday 21st Manal al-Sherif was detained by the Religious Police after posting a video of herself driving around Khobar on the internet. She was released several hours later, although the terms of her release are not known.

AA

further reading:

BBC News: Saudi woman seeks to put women in the driving seat.

Yahoo News: Saudi woman detained after driving

Islamopedia: Fatwas on women driving
Islam Q&A: Women driving

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89 Responses

  1. Since the argument about women’s rights holds little water in KSA, let me try a different argument.
    Not allowing women to drive is an incredible waste of money, and that money goes to foreigners.

    Assuming one actually cares if strange men and women share a space (and Saudis do), it is absurd that strange foreign men can drive Saudi women around (this causes foreigners to scratch their heads).

  2. I am not against women driving cars here, but I just feel that this issue has lost that old ‘golden’ impact to win readers’ sympathy. It has been overused, overdiscussed in every blog/magazine/newspaper that represent/talk about saudis. Saudi feminists have nothing to do but whine day and night about their lost hope of driving a car. I am sure there are many widows, many jobless females, and many women who are married to non nationals that need the attention this issue has got over YEARS. Let’s move on dear ladies! We need to do something that benefit our society, maybe then the tribal mentality will disappear, thus, women get what they want and more.

  3. @A Saudi Woman,
    I’m guessing you have a driver.

    Anyway- NO it is absolutely not an old dead issue. Why shouldn’t Saudi Feminists whine about it? But this article isn’t about whining – it’s about doing. Many widows and jobless females would be alot better off if they could drive a car and take care of their needs since most of them DON’T have a driver. It would also be a wedge into the backward system where men own their women (they call it a Mahrem system and pretend it means “helping” and “protecting”)

  4. Many widows and jobless females would be alot better off if they could drive a car and take care of their needs since most of them DON’T have a driver.

    Spot on.

  5. @A Saudi Woman,

    It’s defeatists like you who basically whine all the time “but there are more important issues” when this IS a stepping stone towards bigger issues, i.e. women voting, equality with men, women’s rights.

    Women driving in KSA would also be symbolic achievement. It is the fact that she is ALWAYS made to be dependent on a male, whether she possesses untold millions or is destitute and cannot work without her guardian’s consent. A woman, figuratively and literally, cannot be in the driver’s seat in this country, AND THAT wall, that barrier, is also what these women are attempting to breach.

    So, it might be a dead issue to you, but for other Saudi women, some of whom DO have chauffeurs like myself, it is a major issue and an obstacle to self-sufficiency and determination.

  6. *Women will also get used to leaving their homes at will*
    Imagine! Women leaving the home at will!

    Women driving around because they enjoy driving
    Imagine! women doing something they enjoy!

    Women could be driving cars which young men want to drive, and they have more right to driving those cars
    Imagine! Women getting something a man wants!

    it will cause the fitnah to flourish, because women will buy a new car because it’s a new model or because they will be the first one to drive it.
    Imagine! Women wanting the latest model car! And we never see a man driving around in the latest model, or standing in line for the latest I-phone, no men are absolutely innocent of such fitnah….

    And I see nothing about women taking their kids to school, to the doctor, doping the necessary shopping, helping out their husbands…
    Where do these dudes live? In the middle Ages?
    Oh, yes, they do.
    Or actually, they are from a much earlier age in evolution…
    http://clouddragon.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/evolution/

  7. It’s so absurd.
    Women like me, who don’t wear hijab, don’t need to be driving a car to encourage us not to wear it.

    And I DO go out at will. I have a driver- but I have used taxi’s in the past when I didn’t.

    Women can already own cars. And to those whom it is important- and can afford it- they are already buying the latest models of what they like- in order to be driven in them.

  8. Sandy! I am shocked! I am starting to think that your mahram has absolutely no control over you! Or worse… it may be possible that he doesn’t even want to control you! Where will this lead to? I am starting to think that you do what you want, go where you want, wear what you want…
    Global society is teetering at the edge of oblivion!

  9. “Women will also get used to leaving their homes at will,” ~~ My Goodness! We can’t have THAT now can we?
    @ Aafke-Art..Ther are TWO of us. I live in Tabuk. I don’t wear hijab. I go out when I want to. All it takes is a phone call to the driver.
    And, oh my, I see the sun is still shining;-)

  10. I am sure there is a natural disaster somewhere on the planet and you two are to blame!

  11. I wish the ones who wanted to drive were able and the ones who want a driver to cart them around town would do that and not try to stop the women who wish to be able to drive.

    The clerical excuses are ridiculous. I especially love the idea that young men would be deprived of something they want to do. Rich.

  12. I do have a driver… You don’t speak from an experience with saudi males.. even if you DO live here that does not count like being their daughter, mother or sister. This woman will not get ANYTHING from challenging males, because like it or not they have the upper hand in our society. That’s why I suggested to seek other means to get what she wants. And please enlighten me how a widow and a jobless female who can NOT make a living, can afford to pay for a car??? Seriously, You don’t seem to know about the situations of many females who have been neglected while those ‘dreamers’ keep stealing the limelight and the media’s attention. If you are interested in reading or maybe meeting REAL courageous saudi women in our society then I can show you many who have struggled to make get a decent life for their families.. NOT some rich women who have nothing to do but sitting behind the driver’s seat for a few mins to be famous for a few hours!

  13. IN the driver’s seat*

  14. If I remember, King Abdallah had issued a royal decree in 2008 making it legal for saudi women to drive. However, his decree has never been implemented because of stiff resistance by the clerics.

    One is led to believe that power of clerics is far more embedded and entrenched in saudi arabia than the “perceived” absolute power of the king and the royal family. For this significant reason, I don’t think women driving in saudi is going to be a reality in the foreseeable future.

    This ban is of course not part of Islamic teachings or such. However, fatwas/religious edicts have been issued by some saudi clerics saying it is sinful for women to drive. Just, excuse me if I may say, it is a stupid misinterpretation by some uneducated close-minded sheiks. And what is worse is that they use Islam as a scapegoat to justify this.

    They claim it is for the good of the society. If so, why is the restriction on females only? Why not place a similar ban on young men who keep ogling and throwing numbers, from their cars, on every woman they see on the streets of saudi?

    I recently read about a Saudi woman piloting an airplane. So I can’t understand why is it OK for them, based on clerics’ twisted theories, to let it be OK for a woman to pilot an aircraft full of “unrelated male” passengers, and it is not OK for her to drive her own car in PRIVATE. At least leave it to each family to decide on their own and not interfere in people’s personal lives.

    On the same topic, there is also heated discussions going on at a muslim website that I frequent:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2011/05/22/the-rosa-parks-of-saudi-arabia-women-challenging-the-ban-by-driving/

  15. Sandy and Linda, do you drive in Saudi? If not, WHY not?

  16. @Saudiwoman,
    Sorry. I am married to a Saudi man, and the mother of Saudi men. I know many Saudi men within and without the family. I have worked with women who spend almost there entire wage on taxi’s to try to make ends meet- and they would much rather be making car payments. Of course in any society there are those that cannot afford a car. In every country. That doesn’t mean there are employable and employed women who wouldn’t benefit GREATLY from being able to put their money towards a car.

    Is it the only issue? No. But it is legitmate and also strikes at the heart of the female ownership system here.

  17. @Lynn,
    I don’t drive because they could kick me out of the country. I also don’t feel as a foreigner I should be leading change. But I certainly support it.

  18. Sandy is right on, but I think Oby said it best in a previous post, that if women were driving, the med would calm down and not be such road terrorists, if they thought THEIR women were behind the wheel.

    Then again, THEIR women are on the roads (and therefore in danger of other drivers) just not behind the wheel!

    I cant understand……….

  19. News headlines blared recently around the world: “Saudi woman detained by religious police for driving”. Not civil police, but religious police.

    This is a matter of Sharia, and of upholding the idiotic segregation of men and women; by the saudi religious establishment. That is why this issue is so resistant to reform and will be for the foreseeable future.

    And while Manal al-Sherif rightfullyb argues that women’s ability to drive is a matter of safety for the women and those they could help in an emergency, one must remember that this is the same country where in 2002, the Saudi religious police beat young girls back into a burning school in Mecca rather than allowing them to go outdoors unveiled. Fifteen girls died.

    Clearly, piety trumps safety!

    You know a seductive left-turn signal could just topple the whole society like a house of cards. :)-

  20. Harry,

    I know you hate our religion, but segregation is not supposed as it is practiced in Saudi………….

    and this is coming from an uneducated, converted, wahhabi! 😉

    kidding for any of you who arnt aware of previous interaction on here

  21. You know a seductive left-turn signal could just topple the whole society like a house of cards.

    your absurd sense of humor kills me…….

    literally ROFLOL

  22. The first conversation between my step-mother (in her 80’s) and my Saudi mother-in-law (in her 70’s) was if my step-mother drove. When my mother-in-law learned that my step-mother did indeed drive then her next words were “teach me, please.”

  23. In my opinion, I think that the King should leave this driving decision up to the husband or guardian of each woman to start in KSA. (Until the need for this type of approval from their guardian isn’t necessary anymore in Saudi Arabia.)

    If a woman driving the latest car is causing Fitnah, then the Saudi men who currently show off their new cars that they buy each month/year, as some currently do, shouldn’t be allowed to do so either. And, then, there are owners of businesses that buy new cars, and don’t pay their employees their salaries. What’s up with that?

    And, why push Saudi women into cars with foreign men everyday? Some of these women end up leaving their husbands and go on to marry their drivers!!! (Or so I’ve heard.)

  24. Almost 20 years ago- my husband arranged driving lessons for his mom and sisters. They all got their license. And can you believe they are still waiting? His mom was never completely at ease- but very glad she had learned. His sisters are welcome to drive (and do) all over the world -except in their own country. Shame.

  25. @Lynn, yes I do live in Saudi. I stated I live in Tabuk, which is a city in the northwestern part of the country. I do not drive because, as Sandy stated, I would be deported. Most likely, that would be a condition of my American husband to keep his job. My boat rocking comes from wearing a dove grey abiya and pink, blue,purple, what- ever- color -suits- my- mood- that day, bandana. My outfit covers the covering requirements. It just isn’t BLACK. And in the 9 years I’ve been here and worn it, no one has said anything to me including the PVPV.

  26. OCCUPIEDBRAIN: “Women driving in KSA would also be symbolic achievement … “.

    I agree with you that Najla Hariri and other women pioneers are blazing a trail towards the emancipation of women in saudi. Indeed, their “symbolic achievements” are laying the groundwork … step by step … for future successes for the liberation of women in saudi.

    Ms. Hariri and other pioneers like her remind me of Rosa Parks, who by her symbolic act of refusing to give up her bus seat to a “white”, provided the impetus for civil rights and women rights movement in the US. Would Ms. Parks had succeeded if she lived in Saudi? Definitely not!

    We in the US have the basic freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom to peaceful assembly and protestations, bill of rights, courts, separation of church and state, etc. etc, etc.
    None of these freedoms exist in saudi, as we well know, and clergy is so powerful that they can and have over-ruled the king and royal edicts at various times.

    That’s why I believe that progress on issues like women liberation and human rights is going to take a long long long time. Very sad but very true!

    The fact is that if saudi society is to advance at all in the future, it can only do so through the help of women, women freed of their political shackles; women free to work their will in society. Women have always fought for their men and their children, they should be ready now to carry forward their fight for their own rights.

    From my reading of the koran and hadith and seera, women and men are created equal and if that is conceded by the saudi clerics, they cannot now be discriminated against. Denying such a patent right would be a fundamental infringement and, therefore, surely unacceptable in Saudi Arabia, where koran is the constitution of the land, in the truest sense. But it has been twisted and turned around by the clerics to meet their male chauvinistic needs.

    JESSICA: “I know you hate our religion, but segregation is not supposed as it is practiced in Saudi”

    Jessica, honestly, I do not hate Islam and I agree with you that Islam, as it is practiced in saudi, is based on twisted logic of some clerics.

    There is a huge difference between “hate” and “critique”. Like others on this forum, including yourself, I provide a critical review, commentary, critical discussion on a specified topic. That’s not “hate”. That’s “critique”.

    There is an interesting discussion going on at a muslim website, that I frequent. The author, Olivia Kompier, is a muslim revert for over ten years. She is asking her readers to admit their “faults” in the practice of islam; expose the skeletons hidden in their closets, and discuss them openly; not to be on the defensive all time time, rather go on the offensive in discussing the issues and problems. It’s an excellent read:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2011/05/18/my-apology-to-lara-logan/

  27. I don’t understand why you would be deported if there isn’t even a law that is being broken by you driving. Perhaps there are a bunch of people that think that if they broke tradition and wore a dove grey abaya and bandana they’d get deported?

    Linda, with your husband not being a Saudi your situation might be very different than Sandy’s or Carol’s so no, I wouldn’t suggest rocking the boat, you can choose to leave if you are unhappy with your situation.

  28. I find it interesting that people in Saudi (or other arab countries) often say…its not for us to change the status quo or enforce change etc…meanwhile Muslims in America and other countries that are nonMuslim are trying to do exactly that by attempting to create laws (anti blasphemy for one) etc that affect everyone…not just Muslims.

    Why no quid pro quo in this instance? If Muslims (and that includes arabs) can come to America or wherever and try to effect change…why cant nonMuslims/nonArabs do that in their countries as well?

  29. @Lynn,
    Manal Al Sharif is in jail for driving. And for inciting disorder or some such nonsense. They won’t put up with that from foreigners.

  30. Coored…

    Don’t you know? It is only a one way street for Muslims…it is OK to come to nonmuslim countries and make all sorts of noise for change but God forbid a nonmuslim even squeak about change or rights for themselves in a muslim country. Big problem. As Sandy pointed out the woman is in jail for driving…maybe there needs to be an uprising en masse by women for this. Are they going to jail everyone?

  31. @oby – “Are they going to jail everyone?

    Not all but close… considering what’s happening in neighbouring bahrain, i won’t be surprised if 500 women take to the street and they cart them off to prison!!!

  32. I agree with radha. This is no small thing, if women drive it will be only the start, when women have more freedom of movement they can find jobs, they can start businesses (with supportive mahrams to do the male stuff for them) and they will earn money and become independent.
    That has to be stopped, and arresting 500 women is peanuts.
    This is a fight between the people and the clerics. And the clerics, with the government will do anything to keep control.

    Manal is locked up now for 5 days while her ”case is being reviewed” In a country like KSA they can make up anything to keep her in jail indefinitely. Actually, they don’t even have to make anything up. Remember the blogger a few years ago. And I have always wondered about that blogging girl who died suddenly and without any cause. What keep Manal Al Sharif reasonably safe is that we all know about her, and that she has masses of support. Not all women have that buffer.

    Maybe they are even going to crack down on women in rural areas now!
    Although that might actually be good, as they really NEED to drive to keep their families going, their men might actually start protesting if the rural women are also deprived of transport.

  33. Sandy and Linda, you are of course right in all you’ve stated.
    If you do do something stupid and get deported you can always stay with me.
    (I have a great car)
    (Actually I have two cars)

  34. They will never allow women to drive or hold jobs. The majority of Saudi men like it now women are slaves. Women themselves are brainwashed, only a small percentage of Saudis escape with a free mind. Not enough to make themselves free.
    They will kill women before they allow them rights.

  35. @radha – ‘i won’t be surprised if 500 women take to the street and they cart them off to prison!!!’

    According to Arab News:
    The newspaper said the car was detained and the family of the woman was summoned to accompany her to the traffic police station for questioning. The woman was later released, according to other Arabic dailies, after signing an undertaking that she would not drive again.

    The incident came a day after Manal Al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who drove her car in Dhahran, Eastern Province Thursday, was detained.

    Al-Sharif was first arrested on Saturday after uploading a video on YouTube in which she talked about the challenge of having to rely on drivers.

    So I say BIG DEAL, if they had to do that over and over and over again, every day with hundreds of women then who would get tired first?

  36. THey re-arrested Al Sharif during the night. She is still being detained.

  37. But what was she re-arrested for? Was the woman in this article rearrested too?

  38. The woman in this article is not the one who was arrested. Manal Al Sharif was arrested. She was re-arrested once they got together a list of “crimes” to charge her with.

    Another woman in Qassim was arrested today and has been released. I don’t know if she’ll be re-arrested or not.

  39. I understand that the ‘charge’ against her was regarding the facebook provocation etc. So what would they charge her with if she just drove and didn’t try to talk others into it? She sounds like a real hero to me and if women with international drivers licenses don’t get out there and drive in support of her then they will lose their chance that she has given them.

    So what if they put you in jail? So what if they KEEP putting you in jail? I believe that this is one of those instances where ‘The Lord helps those who help themselves’ Rosa Parks would LAUGH at these women. but no, she’d probably cry.

  40. I know one of the conditions of release is to sign a document stating you won’t do it again. It’s possible this sets you up for additional charges if you DO do it again. I suspect they don’t release you if you won’t sign.

  41. Do they have the facilities and the manpower to hold thousands of women?

  42. Saudi Arabia does have the facilities and the manpower to hold hundreds or thousands of women if that is decided what must be done. A woman could be held in a jail or even sent to some other facility or “house arrest.” Sadly it is not only the woman who has to face punishment; her family members can also face repercussions for not keeping the female in the family under control. Therefore family leverage can be used as a powerful weapon. It is hard to envision such an atmosphere and specter of control when one has been brought up in the land of liberties and freedom.

  43. What are they going to do? Arrest the whole population? They’ll look like laughing stocks (not that they don’t now anyway)! Rosa Parks did not live in a land of liberties and freedom but she did her part to help MAKE it one for others like her, didn’t she?

  44. Rosa Parks sure did! Manal Al-Sherif has made her name in Saudi’s history. Let’s hope other women will not be afraid to follow in her footsteps and that families will not pay too high a price for the women in pursuit of freedom.

  45. The families should be in their corner and and be willing to make sacrifices as well, if they are not then shame on them and they deserve to pay the price! If they don’t care about the happiness of their mothers, wives’, daughters’, nieces’ etc then why should they care so much about THEM?

  46. Believe me Lynn I want to see the women gain their rights and additional happiness. However it is not always so simple to stand up and sacrifice and does not mean the women are not cared for or their happiness does not matter. If the man who takes care of the women loses his job and/or is jailed due to her actions then what is gained? I am stating this to help amplify just what it means for a man to openly support his wife or daughter or other female relative in such an event.

  47. What is gained? You don’t think that a big deal could be made out of it if the man loses his job or is jailed due to her actions. How would the country look to the rest of the world if they were jailing husbands or fathers for their women driving? ANYthing can happen when people stand up for their rights and the rights of their loved ones.
    People lose their LIVES to affect positive change in countries that do not allow people liberty so losing a job sounds pretty petty doesn’t it?

    Paypal accounts can be set up so that people from all over the world who wanted to could support the cause if need be but I really do highly doubt that it would happen. But, if it does, I would be the first to make a donation to help feed the family.

  48. @lynn – your anger is understandable 🙂 as a woman and one who lived there it pissed me off to more than me it annoyed the heck out of my husband. However it is not as simple as couting prison in saudi, that is not an open society and i agree with carol, bad things can happen and they can keep the ba dthings coming. every human has a breaking point, most who can afford a driver may not want to participate, it’s not like there is justice you can appeal to etc., i’ve known a family where a man has simply dissapeared for some protest, and his family is out in there sufering.

    It is much more than women driving, It should start with those women and men who have dual citizenship atfirst, they are least likely to dissapear, 🙂 the only breadwinner losing his job is no joke, unfortunately that won’t put milk and bread on the table. Lots of men support women driving and want them to be independant but if there is a strong chance they will lose their job and isolation what are they to do ? families need to support the women but i don’t think children should needlessly suffer !!! just my 2 cents, i hope they protest and i hope those youngsters who have less to lose do so first. as for expats, if they attempt this i’m quite sure saudi govt will simply toss them out and hire a new bunch 🙂
    I’m all for woman to drive but there are ground realities to be faced.there , i wish them the very best, take heart and be safe.

  49. Sorry, I’m still not convinced that properly planned protests with proper support can’t make a difference. I’m sure that those kids that may suffer from the brave actions of their parents would be proud of the sacrifices that their parents made that ended up making their lives better. I also think that a good sacrifice story ensures that you do everything you can to make sure that their sacrifices were not in vain.

    OMG, I think that I may just have rebel blood or something!

  50. Ask my children what moment in MY life makes them the most proud…the 20 years of suffering I did in order to be with them…or the one night of taking matters into my own hands…regardless of the dire consequences I could have faced?

    They still talk about that night with so much pride for me in their voices. As Lynn said…sometimes you have to do what’s right…even if there are dire consequences because nothing will ever change if you dont. The abusers, controllers, oppressors…they like things exactly as they are and will never give you a single thing you didnt have to fight for first.

    Do you want to die on your feet….or live on your knees?

  51. interesting points Lynn. It sounds straight-forward and simple the way you put it. I don’t think Saudi nationals would see it that way though…just my own thoughts.

  52. Well, clearly they are some that do. .

  53. sometime i get sad that i hear saodian women cant drive in their country because 50% of people of each societies are females and they should have rights to drive like all people in the world especially saodian women that are moslem and more obey islamic roles and that a wish for all moslem men to marry a kind of saodian woman.

  54. http://news.yahoo.com/saudi-woman-briefly-detained-driving-during-ongoing-campaign-165528083.html

    I’m happy to see that Saudi women are STILL driving and STILL nothing significant is happening to them. This latest one even refused to say that she won’t do it again. How about that all you nay sayers? LOL

    GO WOMEN !!!

  55. She is the first woman I am aware of that did not have to sign a pledge. A very good sign- or at least a lucky one for her. Unfortunately we have a shortage of women that know how to drive- though they are organizing to teach them. Also, unfortunately – most won’t be able to get a license because they would need that from another country. Unfortunately one man has also been arrested for giving lessons. Overall though- I think things are progressing.

  56. I think it is very progressive to hear that a MAN was giving driving lessons to women!

  57. I have also met at least one Saudi male who has given his female family members driving lessons (most of them anyhow).

  58. I am aware of many Saudi males who have ensured that their female relatives can drive. But the fact that it sounded like a Saudi male was teaching unrelated females on how to drive is a significant action. It’s a shame he was arrested but it’s a start.

  59. AB,
    Thanks for clarifying. Hopefully the trend of men teaching women (whether related or not) to drive will continue.

  60. @Sandy – ‘Unfortunately one man has also been arrested for giving lessons’

    Do you have a link to that? I’m curious to know what the charge against him would have been.

  61. Najla Hariri is unfortuantely going to trial for the recent incident where she was caught driving. Please keep attention on this issue. Also- why does the US do NOTHING??? Why can’t Saudi women seek asylum in the US? Why do we act like their wholesale oppression of women is just a mere cultural difference??? There was an uproar for blacks in South Africa- I hope we someday see the same sort of divestment for Women over gender Apartheid.

  62. ‘Najla Hariri is unfortuantely going to trial for the recent incident where she was caught driving’

    Yes, I saw that. I haven’t heard what the formal charge is though. Have you?

    ‘Why can’t Saudi women seek asylum in the US?’

    Were the blacks of South Africa given asylum in the US?

    The Saudi women will get their freedom when they stand up and demand it. I see that the King has declared that women will be able to run and vote in the next election (after THIS one that is ;-)) So, I believe that there will be no turning back after that.

  63. I don’t know if South African blacks were given asylum or not. But many institutions and companies divested from the South African economy and they became unwelcome at international sporting events. And no- I haven’t heard the charges yet.

    I am glad women can vote (in a few years) and though all voting is largely symbolic it is still important. I do think you’re right- things will get better- but i’m just pissy right now 🙂

  64. You have every right to be pissy!! Weeeell, ok, you don’t really since you CHOSE that life. 😉

    When you see a group of Saudi women making a loud enough noise saying that they are unhappy with the gender apartheid then you will see some things happening. Until that happens the ‘west’ will just get accused of trying to change their ‘culture’ or that we are at ‘war with Islam’. What companies are invested in Saudi Arabia? I’ll be HAPPY to boycott them. 🙂

  65. If I am correct I believe Naajala is one of multiple women who have been charged and will appeal in court.

  66. @lynn – “What companies are invested in Saudi Arabia? I’ll be HAPPY to boycott them”
    errr lynn thatw ill mean you will have to ditch your car or hopefully get it to run on water 🙂 just joking…

    Oil, Oil , Oil my dear — is the key

  67. Which companies? Pretty much all of them. Start with Pepsi-Co, and Coke- all the US auto makers- Starbucks, McDonalds, Pottery Barn, the Gap… it goes on and on. Even I can’t do it. Some of these things are what make life livable for me here. Yeah- I admit I’m inconsistant.

  68. I can’t see this happening. There is going to be so much outcry. I pray I’m right.

  69. Carol, That’s what I think too. Actually, this news article, rather than disgust me, made me glad because THAT (flogging for driving) is one thing that will get people around the world to pay attention. Unless, of course, the women of Saudi Arabia remain cowardly intimidated (that includes the simply brainwashed that believe it is a GOOD thing for an adult woman to have an ‘owner’) and refuse to get out there and show their support for women’s rights.

  70. Carol and Lynn, you are probably right- almost guaranteed to provoke a national and international outcry. But it still disgusts me.

  71. @Sandy,

    As I always said the Saudi system cannot stop creating bad headlines even after the positive news of allowing women to vote.

    I agree with Carol, I think this judgement will bounce around a bit for a few months in the ineffective judicial system, create more bad press for the Saudi government, then the King will eventually have to issue a pardon for the women to save face.

  72. @radha – ‘thatw ill mean you will have to ditch your car or hopefully get it to run on water’

    Yep, I’m on it! I just stay parked at home as much as possible (oh the sacrifices I make on principle ;-)) I am waiting for the day that Ford comes out with their American made, all electric car.

    Sandy, I could easily boycott those places but am I supposed to boycott ‘Saudi made’ things or anyone that has any dealings with anything/one Saudi? And you can’t have a good boycott unless you spread the word and get others to follow you. Do you think I could manage that without being accused of being a raging Islamophobe? lol

  73. @Moq,
    A part of me is wondering if the King is furious at having his thunder stolen by this ill-timed sentence (not so much the sentence itself).

    @Lynn,
    Honestly with today’s modern world it quickly becomes tangled. All the American companies have Saudi partners- and many of them are in the class of people trying to push towards progress. Also, you can’t even get Saudi’s to do an effective boycott-partly for the same reasons, so it I don’t think it will work.

    What I DO think might work- if they get the idea is for Saudi WOMEN to divest from the Kingdom. Apparently they sit on a lot of money and they are often encouraging them to invest in the Kingdom. I say they take their money out completely and invest it where they get their rights. Saudi men could feel free to join them if they like.

  74. And it begins…
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/27/world/meast/saudi-arabia-flogging/index.html?section=cnn_latest

    From the article ‘Women2Drive also said police pulled over women’s rights activist Madeah Alajroush for driving in Riyadh on Tuesday. She was taken to police headquarters for questioning and released after she signed a pledge not to drive and called for a taxi home, a statement from Women2Drive said’

    Carol, is Madeah Alajroush of Riyadh any relation?

  75. @Sandy,

    “A part of me is wondering if the King is furious at having his thunder stolen by this ill-timed sentence (not so much the sentence itself).”

    He should be angry at himself for not taking care of a problem he knew about for years. Another way to think about this is whether he has the qualification or the will to solve the problem of the conservatives hold on the judiciary system, the corruption and illogical sentences which result from it.

  76. Yes; Madeha is a cousin. She also drove during the first Gulf war too.

  77. I don’t remember you mentioning her when we were first discussing this recent Women2Drive campaign and it’s dangers. Did something happen to her back then that caused you to worry so much about the women that were choosing to drive this time? If it did then I guess it didn’t have that much of an impact on her since she’s back at it 🙂

  78. http://news.yahoo.com/saudi-king-overturns-verdict-against-woman-driver-200126510.html

    So, y’all that told me that the king didn’t really have absolute power and that it was the religious council that held all the true power were wrong? I would think that if he could overturn a verdict he could make a law to allow women to drive. No?

  79. Yes, the King *could *make an order to drive. However he’s not going to do that until he feels the climate is right and ready.

  80. But the climate is “right and ready” to make women live with the specter of lashing for driving over them? It has to be “right and ready” to stop allowing the oppression of women?

  81. ‘However he’s not going to do that until he feels the climate is right and ready.’

    I think if the climate is ‘right and ready’ for the lesser human to be able to vote, as the king has decreed, then it should also be ready for them to drive themselves to the polls.

    But it should be very obvious to all women who want to drive (and have valid drivers licenses) that they CAN if they are willing to put up with what seems to be just a minor inconvenience IF they get stopped. If they are not willing to take that risk then perhaps those men are right and they are not really worthy of their rights anyway.

  82. @Lynn,
    What did the men do to be worthy of their rights? For that matter what have most people done? Most of us inherit the benefits of others who struggled. I never think it’s ok to blame the victim. Though yes- I do believe collectively women can effect change. And that sometimes you have to take your rights and suffer for them if you want them. It doesn’t make it your fault if you don’t have them.

    Also, women don’t know what they will face if caught. A minor inconvenience? Prison? Repeated sentencing? (Shayma already had a punishment fine- they suddenly went back and added a lashing) Lashing? This was a pardon for one person. Not a pardon for all who may drive.

  83. Sandy, yes, people enjoy rights that others have secured for them (that includes men). That’s perfectly fine, it just bothers ME when they enjoy those right without ever considering the sacrifice that people have made in order to give it to them. I don’t think I am ‘blaming’ any ‘victims’. I’m just don’t have any sympathy for those who complain about something without being willing to make the sacrifice that change takes.

    ‘This was a pardon for one person. Not a pardon for all who may drive.’ Yeah, well. I doubt that. But regardless, until a woman is sentenced to DEATH for driving then yes, it is a mild inconvenience in my opinion. But we’ve already had this discussion. But anyway, why would you want to focus on the negative instead of the positive which is that MANY Saudi women are driving and NOTHING is happening to them. That should encourage others to try it. This reminds me of my 8yr old great nephew REFUSES to learn how to ride a bicycle because his older cousin wiped out on his and got hurt. He doesn’t care how many millions of kids ride their bikes without getting hurt. Should we tell him that bike riding is too dangerous or should we encourage him to give it a try? 🙂

  84. I think you misunderstand me a bit. I think it’s great that Saudi women are driving- and I hope they continue. I actually do think they can get things changed.

  85. Yes, Sandy. I DO misunderstand you if you think that comments like this ‘Also, women don’t know what they will face if caught. A minor inconvenience? Prison? Repeated sentencing? (Shayma already had a punishment fine- they suddenly went back and added a lashing) Lashing? This was a pardon for one person. Not a pardon for all who may drive’ are meant to be encouraging because to me it comes off sounding more like a warning against the dangers of fighting for your rights.

  86. You were minimizing their possible risks and said that maybe men were right and women weren’t worthy of their rights. That sounded like blaming the victim and talking big when you don’t have to risk anything. That’s what I was responding too. I know you like to fight -but that’s all I have time for. Twist it around whatver that thing is you like to do.

  87. Clearly we have a ‘failure to communicate’. I don’t think I ‘twist’ anything and it’s not that I ‘like to fight’. I do look at things from different angles though and I try to communicate that so that people can understand where I’m coming from. I don’t think I was minimizing their risks anymore that you are trying to MAXIMIZE them. lol
    I just think that the risk IS minimal compared to the risks that people historically have taken in order to secure their rights. I don’t see these women who can’t drive as ‘victims’ but rather as people who have not yet done what it takes to change their situation. ‘Blaming the victim’ is more appropriate for those who tell a rape victim that she shouldn’t have been showing her hair, or her face, or her legs if she wanted to avoid being raped.

  88. I agree that women should continue to take to the roadways in Saudi Arabia. They should not feel threatened by the women who have been apprehended. I think more have slipped through the noose of the police.

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