Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Muslim David taking on the Saudi Goliath

I hope Manal al-Sherif won't take offense giving her a male moniker, but it seems to fit.  For a second time she has been arrested by Saudi religious police for driving without a male, or for being a female behind the wheel.  Either one is a major offense in Saudi Arabia, but Manal al-Sherif is determined to change the law.  You can find her, and many other supporters on Facebook and YouTube. I urge you to support her in her battle against Islamic subjugation of women.

Here is the update on her long journey into the light, and how the Saudis are reacting to all this. 

Not well, not well at all.

From AP?Yahoo May 23 by Maggie Michael

Wary of wider defiance, Saudis arrest woman driver

CAIRO – A Saudi woman was arrested for a second time for driving her car in what women's activists said Monday was a move by the rulers of the ultraconservative kingdom to suppress an Internet campaign encouraging women to defy a ban on female driving.

Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," urging authorities to lift the ban and posted a video clip last week of al-Sherif behind the wheel in the eastern city of Khobar.

The page was removed after more than 12,000 people indicated their support for its call for women drivers to take to the streets in a mass drive on June 17. The campaign's Twitter account also was deactivated.

Al-Sherif, a 32-year-old IT expert, was arrested at dawn on Sunday and accused of "violating public order," according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. She was ordered held for five days while the case was investigated; her brother, Mohammed al-Sherif, who was in the car while she was driving, also was taken into custody.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women — both Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

Saudi clerics, from the hard-line Wahhabi school of Islam that is the official doctrine of the kingdom, insist the ban protects against the spread of vice and temptation because women drivers would be free to leave home alone and interact with male strangers. King Abdullah has promised reforms in the past and has taken some tentative steps to ease restrictions on women. But the Saudi monarchy relies on Wahhabi clerics to give religious legitimacy to its rule and is deeply reluctant to defy their entrenched power.

(.)Al-Sherif faces accusations of "violating the rules and the system by driving her car and roaming the streets of the province," the prison chief in Khobar, Ayoub ben Nahit, was quoted as saying in the daily Al-Watan. He also accused her of "inciting public opinion" by posting the video clip.

Uh oh, watch out for those Saudi women who are "roaming the streets of the province" without a male driver at the wheel.  You never know when they might try to apply make-up while changing lanes!  (Calm down, ladies, it's just a little sarcasm, OK?)

(.)There is no written Saudi law banning women from driving, only fatwas, or religious edicts, by senior clerics that are enforced by police. No major Islamic clerics outside the country call for such a ban.

The religion of tolerance makes the rules.  That is called sharia.

Read it all 

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