FIRST IT’S DRIVING: THEN WHAT?
Authorities detained a Saudi woman this weekend after she committed an unspeakable act of defiance in the not-so-magical kingdom: she drove a car – then posted a video of herself behind the wheel to encourage other women to follow suit.
Manal al-Sherif’s YouTube video has attracted more that 500,000 views since it was posted several days ago.
There is no written law that specifically bans women from driving, but Saudis must obtain locally-issued licences in order to drive legally – and such licenses are not issued to women – which makes it effectively illegal for them to drive. Tricky, huh?
Manal al-Sherif’s Facebook page-“Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself” – urges Saudi Arabia to lift its ban on women drivers. “This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country learn to drive,” al-Sherif says. “At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving has a heart attack?”
While Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, it also applies an austere version of Sunni Islam in which “religious police” patrol the streets to ensure that proper “etiquette” is followed at all times.
I urge Saudi Arabia to crack down mercilessly – with a level of firmness that only devout Muslim countries can muster – or there will be hell to pay before we know it.
Give these women and inch and they’ll take a mile. First it’s driving; then what? Next thing you know, they’ll want to vote, go out in public alone, pick their own sexual partners, and demand on marrying husbands of their own choosing.