Saudi Clerics Protest Women Driving, Blame US – ABC News

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Around 150 clerics and religious scholars held a rare protest outside the Saudi king's palace on Tuesday against fresh efforts by women seeking the right to drive, highlighting the struggle faced by reformers in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Written By: Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy
continue to source article at abcnews.go.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. Why is it so important to these old goats that women not drive? Surely they are not concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. Surely the Qur’an had nothing whatever to say about motor vehicles or who should drive them. If they are worried about women travelling in public, they can think of a car as a steel shell to protect them from fanny-patting males.

      • In reply to #3 by Vorlund:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:

        fanny-patting

        US or Brit English?

        I don’t think it’s British English (which would surely seem more reprehensible than the American English version).

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Why is it so important to these old goats that women not drive? Surely they are not concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. Surely the Qur’an had nothing whatever to say about motor vehicles or who should drive them. If they are worried about women travelling in public, they can think of a car as…

      When it comes to men’s rights, the logic seems to be that if something is not specifically forbidden by the Qu’ran, then it should be allowed.

      When it comes to women’s rights, the logic seems to be that if something is not specifically allowed by the Qu’ran, then it should be forbidden.

      Islamic clerics and Muslims in general, fail to see the hypocrisy and paranoid jealousy in this for what they are

  2. Let’s assume the problem is insane jealously. Arabian men imagine with cars women will immediately tootle off to meet their lovers.

    This is roughly what happened in the 1920s. Cars let young couples get out of the eye of parents and get pregnant.

    So I suggest a GPS unit so husband can keep continuous track of wife, and give wife a cell phone, so he can interrupt her at any moment.

    I understand though that Arabian men are also terrified of their women getting cell phones.

    Perhaps some sort of mass Lysistrata protest could tell these bullying males where to get off.

  3. Technology is emancipating because it is new knowledge. I’m surprised they haven’t expressed concerns about liberating house hold gadgets that enable their women to stray from the kitchen sink. It can cut both ways. I once read that installing piped water to homes in a village was seen as a way of relieving women of the chore of water bearing. The women however continued to draw water at the village well because it was the only excuse they had to get out of the house legitimately. They even invented the notion that the well water was superior in order to justify their behaviour.

    The clerics have to maintain the myth of the defective woman just like xtians have to cling to the myth of christ. To allow women to acquire skills and knowledge and challenge men would go against the will of Allah and disturb the perfection that is islam

    • In reply to #5 by Vorlund:

      I’m surprised they haven’t expressed concerns about liberating house hold gadgets that enable their women to stray from the kitchen sink. It can cut both ways.

      I see what you did there!

  4. I think to help Islam and show how tolerant we are of other cultures, we in the UK should bring in a driving ban just for Islamic females.

    Then again, they might complain we are being Islamophobic or racist.

    You just can’t win with religion.

    • In reply to #7 by Aber ration:

      I think to help Islam and show how tolerant we are of other cultures, we in the UK should bring in a driving ban just for Islamic females.

      Good idea, but I think they should ban only Islamic MALES in the UK, thus demonstrating that chauvinism works both ways.

      • In reply to #24 by ShesTheBeth:

        In reply to #7 by Aber ration:

        I think to help Islam and show how tolerant we are of other cultures, we in the UK should bring in a driving ban just for Islamic females.

        Good idea, but I think they should ban only Islamic MALES in the UK, thus demonstrating that chauvinism works both ways.

        Hi Beth, I know you meant regarding driving, but when you said “they should ban only Islamic MALES in the UK” I took that literally, agreeing with the sentiment, with the hope it might spread to Canada too…. 8-) Mac.

  5. Hi Abdullah and Aya

    Despite being hamstrung by the Quran and Hadith, Saudi Arabia still managed to abolish slavery (at least on paper) in 1962. Preventing half the population from driving a car seems to me like a form of sexist slavery, although not even riding a camel is prohibited to females in either the Quran or Hadith. I think the Saudi clerics have their spiritual priorities mixed up with secular politics.

  6. Flying back from the US to Europe, I happened to be seated in the middle of a large Saudi family. Only one of them spoke English, the 15 year old girl who sat directly next to me. She was enormously intelligent, and during the flight we discussed a lot of things, and I got the impression she represented a new generation of girls who were beginning to develop western ideas of independence, but were practical enough to look for ways to negotiate them without conflict. I shared with her both that I was gay, and that I was an atheist, and she responded in very mature fashion, obviously more curious than shocked. We had a mini-debate about God when she mentioned she wanted to be an obstetrician. I said that she would certainly have to study biology and if she was clever, she would also study evolutionary biology, and that once she had done that, she would have a lot of trouble fitting God into the picture. She was polite, friendly and utterly charming, and I even gave her one of my novels as a gift – though in retrospect, I fear I might have endangered her, since the plot is both gay and anti-old testament. I don’t know whether the baggage of Saudi citizens is checked for ‘heretical material’ or whether her parents will force her to discard it for fear of mental pollution. Does anyone here have a better understanding of Saudi culture?

    • In reply to #9 by justinesaracen:

      Flying back from the US to Europe, I happened to be seated in the middle of a large Saudi family. Only one of them spoke English, the 15 year old girl who sat directly next to me. She was enormously intelligent, and during the flight we discussed a lot of things, and I got the impression she represe…

      Just the fact that this family travels with their women and girls is encouraging. Plenty of men from that part of the world travel alone or with their male friends and family members and leave the women at home. The Saudi girl on the plane has been exposed to American and European culture while she was out of her own country and just imagine how much good that has done. She has seen men and women interacting together in public and society didn’t descend into total anarchy with rape and pillaging as a result of that. On top of that, she has now spent some time conversing with a gay atheist who presented as a nice, smart, good person and defied the stereotypes of evil, immoral and predatory that had been served up to her by the religious clerics and others around her.

      Whether or not she reads the book you gave her, you did her a wonderful service by just spending time with her and presenting an interesting new point of view for her to mull over. Every young person should be so lucky to have access to outsiders who challenge them intellectually like you did. The next time someone back home shrieks about how gays/atheists are trying to corrupt all the “normal” good people and destroy society, I predict that this girl from the plane will immediately draw up her memory of that conversation she had with you on that day and think to herself, “I once met a gay/atheist and I didn’t think she was so very evil at all. I think she was smart and nice. So what’s this discrepancy all about anyway?”

      This is exactly the process that made me hate the Methodist church when I was a teen in the 70′s. As soon as I was exposed to Feminist ideas, I realized that they were in conflict with what the Methodists were promoting. Feminists said that I own my body and have the right to manage my own sexuality and reproduction. The church said that both of those things are owned by my father and then my husband and virginity is a precious commodity that I didn’t have the right to squander. Obviously, I chose the feminist version of things and any mention of virginity in the church became sickening and repulsive to me. I hope this happens to more and more Muslim young women-that they become exposed to feminist ideas of body ownership, and then give themselves the right to live as free and independent adults in their society.

      Like you have done, I never turn away from an opportunity to introduce progressive ideas to young people, especially the ones who need them the most.

  7. “clerics and religious scholars…” Read: Men (and they would definitely be men) who are actually REQUIRED to be ignorant savages as a part of their job description. For example, believing the earth (and indeed, the sun) are flat. From (http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Science/earth_flat.html) “Note: The commentators are well informed about the scientific conclusion that the earth is a globe, but the scientists are considered to be laymen in regard to understanding the meaning of the Qur’an. Because revelation has primacy over science, the Qur’an is the decisive basis for the commentators to insist that the earth is flat.” So I guess Richard Dawkins should stop saying that evolution is a fact, because while he is an expert in biology, he is a mere layman when it comes to the koran.

  8. Saud al-Shuraim supported the clerics’ protest by writing on his Twitter account that calls for women to drive are an offense against the king and “aimed at unraveling the beads of wisdom in a cohesive society.”

    Huh? Say what now? I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand what he is trying to say. We must challenge clerics to speak more clearly. Comments about “beads of wisdom” might sound poetic, but have no content. If these clerics want their opinions to be taken into account in the decision making processes, they have to explain better what they are trying to say.

  9. Saud al-Shuraim supported the clerics’ protest by writing on his Twitter account that calls for women to drive are an offense against the king and “aimed at unraveling the beads of wisdom in a cohesive society.”

    Huh? Say what now? I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand what he is trying to say. We must challenge clerics to speak more clearly. Comments about “beads of wisdom” might sound poetic, but have no content. If these clerics want their opinions to be taken into account in the decision making processes, they have to explain better what they are trying to say.

  10. Around 150 clerics and religious scholars held a rare protest outside the Saudi king’s palace on Tuesday against fresh efforts by women seeking the right to drive, highlighting the struggle faced by reformers in the ultraconservative kingdom.

    I suppose if they want to make their protest international, they could come to London to protest outside Buckingham Palace! -
    Mind you – they might have to travel there on a bus or underground train with a female driver, and the queen would probably be unimpressed!

  11. Come on Saudi men, show some love for your girls!
    If you allow women to drive, you can look forward to seeing your daughter learn to walk for a second time!
    Publicly protesting this like something abhorrent was suggested is cruel!
    It’s a silent and introverted form of cruelty.
    The girls who hear this will look inward with contempt.
    Seriously, figuring out how to drive really is like walking for a second time or like figuring out how to ride a bike.
    Its a great feeling of self accomplishment and once learned will serve you for the rest of your life.
    I can’t help but be heart struck.

  12. I look forward to the day when clerics are out of a job because people are tired of their nasty controlling ways and they have to answer to women in some job or the other.( snigger)

  13. From 1978, I spent over seven years in Saudi Arabia. All that time, the plight of the citizens meant nothing to me. I saw it just as an interesting cultural difference. I was blinded by the novelty of it all (and perhaps distracted by the particular challenges associated with working in the country).
    I could never return now. My views would land me in serious trouble. I see islam now for what it is: The most disagreeable of all the major religions. But women are not the only victims in this country. I got to know many young, intelligent, well-educated Saudis trapped by their misfortune to have been born Saudi citizens; terrified to even express doubt about their religion, let alone challenge the mullahs, without risking at best, a beating or at worst, beheading.
    It’s going to be a long, hard struggle, but as the imams and mullahs age and die and go off to enjoy their 70 virgins, things will change. I hope so, anyway.

    • *In reply to #18 by We(e) free:

      But women are not the only victims in this country. I got to know many young, intelligent, well-educated Saudis trapped by their misfortune to have been born Saudi citizens;

      Yes,it’s very important to point out that plenty of men suffer over these misogynistic edicts that get forced on them. All Saudi men are not supporting enslavement of their women. It’s very difficult to get an accurate picture of how many are and how many aren’t, but that is a stat that I would definitely LOVE to see.

    • In reply to #18 by We(e) free:

      From 1978, I spent over seven years in Saudi Arabia. All that time, the plight of the citizens meant nothing to me. I saw it just as an interesting cultural difference. I was blinded by the novelty of it all (and perhaps distracted by the particular challenges associated with working in the country)…

      In 1978 I saw things differently. My point of view was much more benign and accepting. I remember saying that the face covering practices were ‘ just their way of meeting their human needs’ and one of the myriad different expressions of culture. I’m far more judgemental these days, probably in large part because of negative media coverage.

  14. Are there clerics standing on every road looking in all the cars ? Wonder if any Saudi woman has ever considered wearing a fake beard while out driving….would clerics notice them as much ?….just a silly but semi serious thought…..

  15. Had a couple of incidents this month on the A27 involving women drivers – so maybe this is the one area where the clerics and I are in total agreement. Lights blue touchpaper and retires ….

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