Update on Manal Al Sherif

According to Sabq, a local news organization, Manal Al Sherif has been sentenced to five days in prison. She has been charged with bypassing rules and regulations, driving a car within the city, enabling a journalist to interview her while driving  a car, deliberately disseminating the incident to the media,  incitement of Saudi women to drive cars, and turning public opinion against the regulations. As of writing this, this outcome has not been confirmed by her lawyer or her support campaign. Also Manal’s Twitter account was duplicated. (links to original and fake) Someone pretending to be her tweeted that she has repented once she realized that the call to lift the ban is an Iranian and atheist conspiracy that will lead society to moral decadence.


Human rights activist, Waleed Abu Alkhair, has prepared a letter and petitionto be sent to King Abdullah. Within hours of posting the letter, it has gotten over three hundred signatures from Saudi citizens and the list is still growing. This a translation of the letter originally translated by Rafah:

To the Custodian of the two holy mosques Peace be upon you We the children of this country have been very hurt by the news of the arrest of your citizen Manal Masoud Al Sharif on Saturday 22//5/2011 on the grounds of her driving her car in the streets of Khobar in the company of her brother. And while we were relieved at her release in the evening, we were shocked by her detention again at dawn in a very humiliating way for both our country and its people, since she was asked to sign a warrant and was instead tricked and arrested against her will, Manal is at Dammam’s Correctional to this very moment.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,

you have stated in 2007 to the Russian News Network that the issue of Women Driving is a social one and that the state was to facilitate the suitable environment for any decision that the society deems appropriate. The Minister of Interior have also stated that the issue is a social one and not religious, which theoretically means that if the society wants to lift the ban then there should be no obstacles. The same thing was repeated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs: that the decision for women to drive the car is up to her family. Abdullah Al Munee’a, a member of the Higher Council of Ulama, have said that there is no objection from the religious point of view for women to drive. In addition, article 38 of the Basic Law states: there should be no personal or criminal punishment that is not based on a religious or official decree; and since the issue of women’d driving is not a violation of any official law or any religious law, then women should not be arrested for driving their cars based on article 36 that prohibits the baseless restriction on actions and arrest.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,

we call on you to release your daughter and citizen Manal Al Sharif immediately and lift the injustice that have been placed on her, since she drove her car with her brother’s company and consent, and she has a recognized driving license in accordance with the Traffic law as outlined by article 2 section 34 of the law. We also believe that the time has come to resolve the issue of women’s driving for once and for all in a clear manner. To say that its a social issue and is not prohibited by religion, and then for women to get arrested is completely unjust and it leaves us trapped in a vicious circle. We are in desperate need for a clear law that either prohibits or allows women to drive.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,

you have said your famous saying that women are your wife, mother and daughter. Your daughter Manal Al Sharif is in jail for no crime that she committed. Will you remove this injustice? We all hope for the prompt freedom of Manal.

May God Bless You and Look after You..

[The signatories]


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37 responses to “Update on Manal Al Sherif

  1. The movement was gaining momentum, I think it will be squashed for a while now… too bad, we were excited about it.

  2. Salamat Eman,

    I am a reporter on a national radio and online program called HACK where we look at international current affairs.

    I am particularly interested in movements across the Arab World at the moment especially in Saudi Arabia.

    It is vital that voices such as Manal and yours are heard here to highlight authentic and genuine stories from the region.

    I would love to conduct an interview with you for our program today. If this is possible – can you send me a contact number to reach you on and a suitable time. I will make it work whenever is good for you.

    Our program goes to air live today at 5:30pm Australian time so would need to be before this time.

    Many thanks

    • Cassi

      Oh wow, to hear Eman Al Nafjan on HACK tonight would be so amazing. Please Eman participate on HACK (http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/). It’s a radio show on the youth radio station Triple J in Australia and I know many of my friends in Australia that follow your blog also listen to Triple J.

      I’m very very excited at the prospect of hearing you tonight and will listen in, hoping that you will be on!

  3. It seems the message from the government here is that driving on the 17th will constitute participation in a protest – which is (now) a clear violation of law and therefore actionable. However, driving before and after the 17th is technically in keeping with the King’s statements that driving is a social – not legal – issue, to be decided by the people.

    The question, of course, is whether the Hai’a will continue to be empowered to disregard the King’s wishes or whether they will be obedient to him and let society decide.

    The truth is, the Hai’a (and those like them) are the ones with the most to lose if women decide it is time to start driving. A woman who drives will no longer stomach the constraints and controls of the guardianship system, nor ultimately the arbitrary segregation and limitations enforced on them by the religious establishment. She will be more independent, more self-reliant and more in control of her own destiny in ways big and small.

    I don’t think people who marginalize the issue of women driving in Saudi comprehend what a monumental societal change will take place when women drivers becomes the norm: Everything will change.

    On the other hand, the conservatives calling for men to beat women drivers on sight know exactly what’s at stake – the institutionalized oppression of women they’ve benefitted from for the past fifty years. No wonder they’re advocating violence!

    My heart and prayers are with you, Eman, with Manal, and with all the other brave women of Saudi Arabia who have the courage to be the changes they want to see. What an exciting time to be a (nearly) silent observer!

    May God protect and bless you all. ~ Lori

  4. Tracy Williams

    We support Manal and are concerned for her safety.

    I can assure you, there is no Western conspiracy to disrupt Saudi society or to corrupt the morals and honor of Saudi women. Westerners value morals and honor just like everyone else.

    Saudi women are skillful, capable and a credit to their country. Saudi women driving will demonstrate the excellence of the people of Saudi Arabia.

  5. Hrishikesh

    Hi Saudiwoman

    Good to see your blog from time to time, your efforts though are a drop in the ocean but definitely make a statement.


  6. How I wish that Malik Abdullah would release Mrs. al Sherif, then fly to Al Khobar, visit her in her home, and, on live Saudi television, ASK HER TO DRIVE HIM TO RIYADH.

    Thus would the king open the path to women’s liberation (Saudi style) in Saudi Arabia.

  7. t

    Free al Sherif and bring the thousands of U.S. troops home from Saudi Arabia.

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  10. sach

    saudi men must be very week and honorless that they cant stand competition from a woman behind the wheel.

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  14. Paul

    As an American, I find this utterly appalling. Such a tiny thing being denied is a sign of an overwhelmingly oppressive regime. And to think I actually considered Saudi Arabia a bright spot in an otherwise brutal and backwards region…

    Still, I suppose the fight for freedom must start somewhere. Undoubtedly woman have the same rights as men, regardless of what many may think.

    • Man, even if it becomes legal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, i can say a very small number of women will drive. The problem doesn’t lie in the regime, it lies in the people’s mentality. It doesn’t have anything to do with the regime or Islam, it’s how people think. I don’t know if i can explain this very well, but i lived there; some Saudis are like “yesterday i took my wife -sorry to mention a feminine thing in your presence- and went to bla bla bla. Can you believe this, they’re freaking ashamed of their female relatives.

  15. unknown

    overwhelmingly oppressive regime?!!! so oppressive that women in Saudi Arabia are treated like queens. oh the irony!

    • Adrytatoo

      I don’t think standing in the sun waiting for a cab constitutes being treated as a queen…

    • So women in Saudi are treated like queens? I was born in Saudi Arabia, and lived there for 15 years. No one can say they’re treated like queens. Some Saudis act like they’re ashamed of their sisters and mothers, they treat them like objects, or something they can make money out of when giving them as wives to others. Women around the world can drive cars, i can assure you they didn’t get raped because of that. I am sure if there was no human rights some Saudis would put their female relatives in shelters under the ground.

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  18. In American a Man was Fired from his Job for Posts to His Facebook Account his Employer took exception too. Our World Is not The Beverly Hills Utopia meny on The Web would have It. The American Gov. Is ever just a Reason away from making Us All subjets of Homeland Security. When have things ever been any Different, and when will they ever Be ? I Dont Know. Again I Respect Conservative Efforts to Keep The Muslim way of Life as Is. But Only as Long as It Is to that Specific Idealogical End ! If Arab Bougerouis can Parade Through The Local Burger King with Full Entourage of Sexy Celebrities; Why cant Saudi Woman Drive Her SUV and Tweet the Price of Kids Meals All over The Middle East ? Let Us Pray.

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  20. dreamadventurer

    Sad. The Saudi dynasty does nothing but to smear Islam and Muslim people. It is the most opressive regime in the world under the banner of Islam. I hope Saudis rise to a revolution and throw down the regime puppets.

    • alfranse

      Saudi Arabia and all the countries of the Gulf are in very good hands. What the royals need to practice is pure common sense and to live in the 21st century, not in the Middle Ages (without dungeons, without enslavement, and without bad laws)

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  22. Can someone advise if Wajeha Al Huwaider was arrested this morning (June 6th, 2011). We have heard a report that she may have been trying to help a fellow Canadian and that person saw her escorted away by two police cars this morning. Please reply at mpvottawa@gmail.com
    Thanks. Salaams.

  23. alfranse

    The truth is foreign men, expatriates, and Saudi men are clueless about the life of women in Saudi Arabia. First, non relatives males do not see, do not hear, and cannot talk to women to understand their daily circumstances. Women in Saudi Arabia are not oppressed; however, they do need rights.
    Right to leave the house alone to go shopping. Right to drive a car or a bicycle. Right to exercise to stay healthy. Right to visit their female friends without permission and without escort (a mahram). Saudi men are only worried about protecting the castity of their women.

    • alfranse

      Like one intrepid expatriate said on Arabnews, one of the first things that Saudi women should be allowed to operate is a Saudi women magazine covering all issues related to women in the Kingdom. This way all Saudi women issues stay on the agenda and all Saudi women will have a place to voice their opinions and their frustrations with the status quo.

      • alfranse

        You can also add an all Saudi women’s forum on Saudi television. A television program not for sharing cooking recipes but for motivating and encouraging Saudi women on how to solve their problems, without any foreign intervention. Television in Saudi Arabia is a medium that is male dominated, offering mostly manly sports and, ironically, wrestlers running around in undergarments (what a contradiction).

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  25. مدونتك جميلة جدا يا اختي و الله دمعت لها عيني
    و لكن اعتب عليك انك تكتبين بالانجليزية
    فقد يظن المرء انك تشهرين باخوتك السعوديين و المسلمين
    و انا اعرف صدق نيتك و حسن عقلك
    كما ان من يحتاجون لقراءة هذة الكلمات هم السعوديون و ليس الاميركيون
    ها هو عنوان مدونتي اتمني لك النجاح

  26. Edson (Pele)

    May ALLAAH bless Manal Al Sharif and Saudi Arabia. She made Saudi women proud.

  27. Pingback: Driving Saudi- The Story of Manal Al Sherif | Relativity OnLine

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