It’s back on!

Prison, lashings and Interior Ministry phone threats, fines and pledges drove the women driving movement underground again.  This time around though, unlike in 1990, it was only for a few months before Saudi rights activists geared up again to call for this basic right of no gender discriminations in who gets to drive their cars.

A couple of days back, there were unconfirmed reports that the king has issued a decision to not prosecute women who drive in the general courts. Yesterday morning the news was confirmed by the press. A committee of experts (no word on experts in what exactly) will look into issues related to social conventions and that do to not go against Shariah law.  This of course will probably not sit well with the ultra conservatives since they have been drilling into Saudi people from the first grade that religion has something to say about every single little humdrum detail of our daily lives. However from the wording of the report it is clear that this committee is most likely set up to solely deal with the women driving ban issue. In the report, Mr. Katib Al Shamri, a lawyer, states:

“The most important benefit of this decision is to ease the burden on the judges in issues unrelated to the Sharia and that might cause embarrassment to the judiciary and judges of the Kingdom abroad.”

As the judiciary system in Saudi is mostly run by patriarchal ultra conservatives, anyone else is going to be more sympathetic when it comes to ruling in a woman driving case. And the reference to “embarrassment…abroad” just shows that international news reports and foreign commentary has influence on the support for lifting the ban. This small opening has a part in encouraging the driving movement to rise up again, even though it was already planning to do so in the next few weeks either way.

On Feb 4th Samar Badawy, with the support of her activist/husband Waleed Abualkhair, filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic department for illegally preventing her from applying for a driver’s license since there is no gender requirement in the written laws of the traffic system. The fearless couple have a history of human rights activism including a seven month imprisonment of Samar for refusing the abusive guardianship of her father.

Last June, Manal Al Sharif with the legal counsel of Abdurahman Allahim applied for a driver’s license. As was to be expected, she was ignored. So the next step that they took was to file a lawsuit at the Court Administration (Grievances Board) in the Eastern Province on 15 November 2011. The lawsuit is to object to the negative decision issued by the General Directorate of Traffic in refusing to grant her a driver’s license. The lawsuit also includes an action of objection to the General Directorate of Traffic’s persistence in ignoring all other requests for driver’s licenses made by other Saudi women.

With the ever increasing support of lawyers, officials, royal family members, and religious scholars, the women driving movement is getting louder and more sophisticated. These lawsuits cannot be dismissed in the same way that the women who went out in the streets and actually drove were. The ball is in the government’s court now. It’s unlikely and unwise that they’ll punish women for filing lawsuits.

If you are a Saudi woman reading this, I urge you to join the Right to Dignity initiative by sending a telegram or a registered letter to the General Administration of Traffic. For more information on the how to please read this.

However if this sounds too intimidating you can still have your voice heard by simply making a call to the traffic department requesting that women be allowed to apply for driving licenses. You can find the numbers here.

On a lighter note, MIA released a music video yesterday in support of “badass” Saudi women. Since our own countrymen call us Iranian/American agents, evil, infidels, licentious, conspiring, and immoral, MIA actually comes out as mild in comparison.


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17 responses to “It’s back on!

  1. Delighted you are back on, eagerly awaiting further informative blogs. And, full speed ahead to all who are fighting the driving ban, pun intended! Interesting to note that the powers-that-be are sensitive to negative international press. Only solution is to stop giving people (inside and outside the Kingdom) so many reasons to criticise.

  2. Good to see you are back Saudi woman, loud & proud sister, go for it, who knows where this road might lead the women of Saudi society. another intended pun, who knows, maybe, even men with a conscience and at least one foot in the real world, will find a voice to support your, and all the other brave women’s struggle to at least be seen to exist as equal human beings

  3. M W

    In the year 2012, there should be no reason why women cannot drive in any country. Are there any other countries that don’t allow women to drive or is it just Saudi Arabia? Is there a fear that if women get to drive, that once women do, women will want to do more than drive? Are girls allowed to learn? Are there any female doctors? I should imagine there are a lot of women who “go nuts” because they are not allowed to do what a man does. I know I would.

  4. Reblogged this on Ritachemaly's Blog and commented:
    Les saoudiennes saisissent leur justice pour le droit de conduire une voiture!

  5. Reblogged this on Gazanism and commented:
    I reblog this post for the women driving movement is taking it to the next level. They are now issuing the Saudi ban of their right to drive at the court since their demands of having the right to obtain a driver’s license to drive on their own in the streets of the Saudi Kingdom do not contradict the written laws of the traffic system. Please, read this post to learn about the amazing Saudi female activists’ struggle against their insanely uptight and contradictory Saudi society. And of course to check the MIA (British rappaer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent) new song in support of these brave Saudi women while our own Arabic music fails to issue this just fight.

  6. HM

    Badass Saudi woman here, says…the darwinist in me says, I won’t do this brain damaging stuff once I get to drive in the kingdom of doom and gloom. I will volunteer to drive them to the emergency room though.
    Live long and prosper sista…

  7. HM

    Man… I hate it when I don’t edit but you get the point.

  8. Alois Saint-Martin

    Authorities are Notorious` for expressing restraint, while`st ” The Whole World is Watching”. Someday, All Government will be like Mom and Dad; and All Citizens will be like Obedient Children. Until then, I. would Agree Uncle Joe should keep his OCD`s to Himselve. Ultra-Conservatism that stems from Abuse of the Proletariat and Not from Islamic Fundamentalism ( Real Shariah Terrorism ); It appears, has reached The End Of The Rainbow. And yet the World still hinges with ears poised for News from Egypt, from Libya, and Greece … ?
    Alois Saint-Martin

  9. Art

    nice video, nice action, Great MIA
    Sexy Girl

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  11. You !

    That is sick, she is from Sri lanka, sings from some euorpian country, vedio made in…dont know where. What is there 2 b proud of ?

  12. Musaa

    I am with Saudi woman to drive and I am a man but i don’t like her to be represent by a video clip. it is her right to drive and no need to use wrong tool to support ultimate goal.
    secondly, before the end of this video clip i noticed that their is someone who inside the BMW car turned out something it looks like a sword or a knife, does he or she did that for a hidden reason, i think it is to put us in the terror image ! that’s my opinion and i respect all people.

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