Is that really a charge? The American justice system is built on a set of laws passed by legislatures. Citizens (men and women) of the U.S. vote in the legislators they feel will represent their interests best. In Saudia Arabia, the rule of law is not built on a system of equality. Instead, “Courts and special tribunals refer to Hanbali fiqh, state regulations (nazam), and custom and practice in passing judgements. Traditional areas of law continue to be governed by sharia law while certain spheres of law (e.g., corporate, tax, oil and gas, immigration law, etc.) regulated by royal decrees, state regulations, codes or bylaws.” So yes, that is an actual charge.
The young woman who was charged, Manal Al Sharif, was detained on May 22nd after she “defied the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and posted a video of her action on YouTube, as part of a national campaign.” She was also later also charged with “rallying public opinion.”
Al Sharif served 10 days in a women’s prison. Today, she issued a statement, “As for driving by women in Saudi Arabia, I will now leave this issue to our leaders who are more aware and better acquainted of its advantages and disadvantages…on this occasion, I would like to say that I will always be the Moslem Saudi woman who is keen to serve her country and satisfy her Lord.” According to reports, she has “vowed” never to drive again.
The photo of her online at Emirates247.com shows her being “reunited with her son.” Is this a threat to other women who choose to defy the ban? It certainly stinks of something.
Social networks have played a significant role over the past year in revolutions across the globe, but it hasn’t always been for good. AFP News reported, “Facebook page calls for beating Saudi women drivers.” Is that really a page that someone wants to “Like”? I tried to find it and it doesn’t appear to be up anymore. Smart move.
Why the ban? According to TheStar.com, “the ultraconservative religious establishment reiterated in sermons and online forums why the act of driving by women is an abomination that would lead to all kinds of sin. Some labeled Al Sharif licentious for her motoring campaign.”
The driving ban is just one symptom of a country that views women as non-persons. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of only three countries that bans women from participating in the Olympics. The obesity rate among women there is HIGHER than in the U.S. and diabetes is a growing epidemic.
Still, we can rest comfortably knowing that the UN made sure that Saudi Arabia got a prominent seat on the UN Women’s Board. The big news during its forming is that they were able to keep Iran out, a country that allows women to compete in the Olympics and drive. Hmmm…is our dependence on oil working to encourage a culture where women are discarded and treated with contempt.
Oddly, if this fact sheet is right, we don’t even get any of our oil for Saudi Arabia, so why is the U.S. such good friends with them…I say, cut off relations until women are allowed to freely move among them. The 9/11 terrorists did not have mothers that were free. It is in our interest to support their struggle.