More support for Saudi women driving!

The European union has voiced their support for Saudi women’s wish to drive, by Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. On Wednesday 22 June, a spokesperson for Ashton released a statement describing the women’s movement as “courageous.”
“The EU supports people who stand up for their right to equal treatment, wherever they are,” . “The Saudi women who are taking to the road are exercising their right to demand that equality. They are courageous and have the High Representative’s support.”

The message came after more than 7,000 people signed a petition asking Ashton for a public declaration of support, and just one day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced her support during a news conference.

More Saudi Arabian women drove their cars in the streets of capital Riyadh Wednesday, continuing a campaign to push the kingdom into overturning a ban on female drivers. At the same time, one of the European Union’s top diplomats sent a long-requested message of support for their campaign.

The drivers were Sara Al-Khalidi, who was accompanied by her mother, and Azza Al-Shamasi, who was accompanied and filmed by blogger Eman Al Nafjan (Saudi Woman). The group was also filmed by Saudi media group Rotana.
Rotana is owned by Prince Al-Waleed, a nephew of King Abdullah.

Eman Al Nafjan also filmed another drive on June 17, the original day the Women2Drive movement called for Saudi women with international licenses, or licenses issued by foreign countries, to drive their own cars. According to an email from, Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt, someone later broke the car’s glass and left a note in English that said, “Don’t drive again, Bitch.”
“This could have been a Saudi man or a hired driver worried about losing his job,” Joffe-Walt says.

MSNBC published a photo of a similar note attached to a smashed side mirror. The note appears to say “Plz Do Not Drive” on one side and “biatchhh” on the other. Al Nafjan’s family says it was placed as a warning after she was part of the June 22 drive through Riyadh, according to MSNBC. Al Nafjan could not be reached for comment.

The Saudi driving ban on women is not based on any written law, but religious rulings enforced by police have prevented women from driving, at least in the cities. Rural Bedouin women do drive cars and water trucks.


Further reading:

MSNBC women driving



12 Responses

  1. Yay for the EU!

  2. […] More Support for Saudi Women Driving! Tweet stLight.options({publisher:''});emailBy American Bedu- American Bedu […]

  3. It’s indeed heart warming to see more and more world leaders like Hillary Clinton/US and Catherine Ashton/EU voice “their support for Saudi women’s wish to drive”. I hope that this noble trend continues to gain momentum.

    It’s also sad to note that not one leader of a muslim country has expressed “their support for Saudi women’s wish to drive”. Whatever happened to the so-called ummah???

    Unfortunately, even the most clear and logically compelling arguments for the practicality and necessity of allowing women to drive will have trouble gaining traction in a country where sharia is the law of the land. It is Sharia’s insistence on the separation of the sexes and the control of a male guardian that has led to this situation.

    And lest we forget, it is the same sharia law where religious police beat girls back into a burning school to keep them from going out improperly veiled. Note also what Manal al-Sharif was accused of for her initial defiance of the driving ban: “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion.”

    Those are the priorities saudi women are up against!

    Saudi women can learn from the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the US. Disobey absurd laws, like the ridiculous guardian/mahrem laws that reduces adult women to children, and ban against street protests. Then let’s see how the barbaric Sharia establishment which is so concerned about “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation,” would violently clamp down on peacefully protesting women.

    In order to gain, one needs to go through pain …. or in more spiritual terms … in order to get to heaven, one needs to go through hell :)-

  4. I’m a little confused about the note at end. There isn’t a Fraser Suites apartments building in all of Saudi. There is one in Dubai and London and Hong Kong but none in Saudi. Unless someone saved the paper? a little off the subject? maybe. But I think any sensationalism in a matter like this (and there has been a lot) decreases it’s importance and it’s credibility. Also, considering the majority of Saudis (women and men) would rather women don’t drive (although it is obviously handicapping them) means people have to find a diplomatic way to implement this ad not force it on a country where the majority of it’s citizens do not ask for it. Let me clarify that I am not saying they shouldn’t drive. What I am saying is they should do what Kid Faisal did when he opened schools for women in the 1960’s and said it was not mandatory for women to go if they didn’t want to. Inevitably people saw the benefit and let their daughters go.
    Lastly, I think it is naive to group Saudi’s in with Europeans and Americans and think what goes for them can go for us. We all want the same thing but we cannot all get there in the same way. Our culture, beliefs and of course religion give us a different perspective on life and I find it preposterous to think that we must all think like the west or we will never be free. We can be free without being western!

  5. If driving for women is allowed- that doesn’t make it complusary. So that is what King Faisal did for education. He also brought out the National Guard to protect people who wanted to attend school. So yes, it would be nice if they brought out the National Guard to protect women drivers.

    If they allow women to drive and only 5 do- then no big deal. The reason they don’t want women to drive is because they know they WILL want to. If they didn’t want to it wouldn’t be an issue. Of course cultures are different- but those who are oppressed share a bond- that crosses cultures.

  6. Of course they will want to. It will happen, What I am saying is that all the activists should focus more on what sways Saudi’s as opposed to what sways the west. And should find solutions that are good for Saudi’s not just the west.

  7. It would have been nice if Hillary Clinton would have reacted the same when approached by Bahraini activist begging for help against the atrocities being committed against them by the Bahrain govt. Driving for Saudi women is worthy of support…but supporting the Bahrainis against a tyrannical govt who is killing them, arresting them over nothing and subjecting them to military court without so much as a lawyer present is too hard? Hypocrisy much?

  8. Coolred were you in Bahrain? Just wondering because it was the rioters with the machetes and not the government. But you wouldn’t know that because you weren’t there. My good friends and family were. I guess the government should have let them kill and rape, those poor poor rioters. Even the Shiit Bahraini’s who began the protest distanced themselves from what happened after. But it’s no fun when the government is not the bad guy I guess. Who cares if people are being killed and raped right?

  9. I know two people who were in Bahrain. They say it was the government and their hired thugs.

    The way Saudi activists are doing this is simply to drive. It isn’t about impressing the west. What would the “Saudi” way be? For more than 20 years I’ve been hearing how “soon’ women will drive- they need to get people ready, make roads safe etc. etc. They didn’t now too bad. I can’t think of a single case of opression where the oppressors suddenly said, “okay. We’ll stop oppressing you”. So Saudi women are doing what they have to do now. And of course anyone who cares about Human Rights East or West supports them.

  10. Mama B…no I was not there…but I still have plenty of friends and family there (as you claim) giving me eye witness accounts. My best friend is a journalist as well as her family is highly placed and respected in Bahrain…why would I doubt what she told me? She is Sunni if that matters.

    Evidence against what the govt has done to its own people is overwhelming… some rioters doing dispicable things does not account for the wholesale arresting of hundreds of people, trials in military courts without so much as a lawyer present, doctors and nurses fired, students in universities kicked out, torture of prisoners and and and…not to mention the kicking out of international journalists but then complaining the world has it all wrong. Whatever.

    My best friend stood in front of King Hamad himself not 5 days ago and had to bite her tongue until it bled as she listened to the complete and utter shit that came out of his mouth as he tried to excuse and explain and then complain about everything that has happened in Bahrain…and how he and his govt have no blame in it…and how the media are just intent on painting him and his govt as tyrants like Mubarak etc. There is no smoke without fire as the saying goes.

    Your defense of your govt is sad and pathetic in light of the overwhelming evidence against them.

  11. I guess we all have our own opinions and our own first hand accounts and neither will be convinced of the other so this seems like a bit of a waste of time an energy.
    I think we can all agree that we all want the same thing regardless of how we think it should come along.

  12. Mama B and Coolred: Isn’t it possible that there is a mixture of both occurring in Bahrain?

    Also, Mama B: That note looks like it came from a notepad and yes many people save them as they are in the rooms/apartments. I do it all the time, why not I paid for it?! Perfectly feasible note in the above pic. By the way Fraiser is all over the world, google their website; there’s even plans to come to Saudi too. But anyway, to relate this back to the topic at hand; it is interesting that they used that paper to tell off a Saudi female for driving given that it most definitely came from a country where other women are free to drive!!! They truly have no sense of irony do they!?

    Ho-hum. What do you think would happen if I decided to take the hubby’s car for a spin today? Would they really ask us to leave Saudi? 😉

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