- After years of campaigning, Saudi women can drive at last, the King has announced
- But not everyone in Saudi Arabia is happy, including many women
- They say that it "undermines what their ancestors built", and a man who allows his wife to drive is not "manly"
- Still, plenty of Saudi women are pleased that their's is no longer the only country with such a law
by Rosie Alfatlawi
Saudi women are finally allowed to drive, after King Salman announced last night that driving licenses will be issued from next year.
A cause for joy and celebration? Not for everyone.
In fact, while it is all well and good changing Saudi Arabia’s misogynistic laws, in many ways the bigger issue facing women's rights is prevailing social conservatism.
And not all of it from men.
Women have taken to viral hashtags “the people refuse women’s driving” and “the harem of my house will not be driving” to express their anger at the decision.
#الشعب_يرفض_قياده_المراه— سمرإلمالكي. (@gnooob222) September 26, 2017
انا معارضه سواقة المرأة بقوووووووووووووههه
يااااااااااااااارب سألتك يلغون هالقرار
I am strooongggly opposed to women driving. Oh God, I ask you that they cancel the decision.
#الشعب_يرفض_قياده_المراه— س~ (@sasa_4334) September 27, 2017
مع الاسف كانت كل دوله تتميز بشي واحنا كان يميزنا تكريم المراه وحفظها واكرامها الحين صارنا مثل باقي الدول
Unfortunately, each country is set apart by something and our distinguishing feature was a woman's honor, protection, her respect. But now we have become like every other country.
#الشعب_يرفض_قياده_المراه ليلة حزينه ياوطنيوالله اني اخاف من زوال النعم التي انعمها الله علينا نعمة الأسلام الأمن الأمان يارب أصلح الحال— Rsh aljuhani (@mear1991) September 27, 2017
It is a sad night for my nation. I swear, I am afraid that the blessings with which God has blessed us with - the grace of Islam, and peace and security - will come to an end. Dear God, please fix the situation.
#الشعب_يرفض_قيادة_المرأة— في العتيبي. (@on121512) September 27, 2017
وزارة الترفيه , الرسوم على الاجانب , الاحتفالات الفاجرة , قيادة المرأة.
إستمروا في هدم ما بناه أجدادكم .
Ministry of leisure, fees for foreigners, unbridled parties, women's driving. Keep destroying what your ancestors built.
بـ اختصار انا كـ امراءه اشوف ان الرجل اللي مبسوط بالقياده وسمح لااهله بالقياده ورضى فيها هذا مافيه لارجوله ولاشهامه .#حريم_بيتي_لن_يقودوا— ياديه (@NFC_RH) September 26, 2017
In brief, as a woman I see that a man who is happy about [women's] driving and allows his family to drive, and is pleased about it, has no manliness or chivalry
#الشعب_يرفض_قيادة_المراه— روز(@Rose_Rose_11) September 26, 2017
الى أين يابلاد الحرمين ؟!!! امس اختلاط واليوم سواقة حريم حسبي الله بس
Where are you heading, oh country of the two Holy Mosques?!!! Yesterday, gender mixing, today driving... May God protect us from this evil.
That is not to say, of course, that all Saudi women are opposed to being able to drive. It was women who have led an ongoing social media campaign pushing for the right to drive, and the fall of the repressive male guardianship system.
Manal al-Sharif launched the Women2Drive protest in 2011. She was arrested that year for filming herself driving, along with fellow activist Wajeha al-Huwaider. They were joined in defying the law by a number of other Saudi women, several of whom were detained.
She tweeted the following to her 309,000 followers not long after last night's decision:
My car, which I drove in 2011, I left it in Saudi Arabia and refused to change its number plate. I will return with God's permission and I will drive the same number plate.
- Saudi Prince on Twitter: ‘Stop the debate. Time for women to drive’
- Deja Vu: Saudi Prince Says ‘Women’s Driving is Coming’, Twitter Gets Excited
While there are plenty of Saudi women demanding and campaigning for their rights, it is easy to assume that the only resistance to liberalization comes from men. That is simply not true.
As Western liberals (see below) enthusiastically hail what is seen as a positive step for Saudi women, it is important to remember that not all Saudi women feel the same way.
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