Saudi Women Express Outrage at Being Allowed to Drive

Published September 27th, 2017 - 09:01 GMT
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 (Twitter)
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 (Twitter)
  • 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.

I am strooongggly opposed to women driving. Oh God, I ask you that they cancel the decision.

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.

 

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.

Ministry of leisure, fees for foreigners, unbridled parties, women's driving. Keep destroying what your ancestors built.

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

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.

 

 

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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