The sacrifice of Manal al Sharif, the woman who spent 10 days in prison for driving openly in Saudi Arabia, an activity banned for women, and publishing her doing in a video wasn’t fruitless. I commented her action and her reasons to do it in a post almost three weeks ago, and hopped that what she did would be the first drop of a copious needed rain in some kind of desert of a women rights.
Well, that action is a movement. Yesterday, friday, many Saudi women, answering a call communicating themselves by twitter or commenting in Manal’s Facebook page women2drive took the wheels of the family cars and began to drive, some of them did it at night, afraid to be noticed, with their faces covert by the muslim veil, some in plain sun light, even with their husbands in the passenger site. It was no so massive as it would be expected from a western open country with other traditions, but it was a challenge in all means to the rulers of the Kingdom and his strict interpretation of some of the mixes between the religion and the law in a “fatwa” that ban women to drive. The Facebook page contains some interesting testimonies.
The answer? So far, let the protest be more or less unnoticed. Some tickets for driving without Saudi license (impossible to have for a woman, they had foreign licenses). Some stopping and sending the woman home, much more agents looking to the other side and at the moment I’m writing this, not jailing or arresting.
Now is time to wait and watch carefully what will happen in the following days. This was a mild revolt to search for a right nowadays really simple and basic. Is not an Issue that can undermine the whole system. it’s simply tell the King to see if he can be a little less strict in a question not so fundamental for the religion and more adjusted at our time. If a muslim woman can have studies, access a computer, watch TV, communicate through Facebook or twitter, have a cell phone, why can’t drive?.
A mild revolt can be resolved by a mild reform. A “fatwa” to put Saudi women nowadays respect to their pairs around the world in an innocent and practical way of life. An this can be the beginning of more mild or more important reforms to gain in human rights for women and for everybody, without violence, without undermine the Kingdom if you want, or what is here the actual sensitive question: without putting in risk the custody of the Sacred sites of the Muslim Religion.
- In Saudi Arabia Today, A Lady Went for a Drive (readwriteweb.com)
- Campaign Protests Saudi Arabia’s Ban On Women Behind The Wheel (npr.org)
- Saudi Arabia women test driving ban (guardian.co.uk)