“One woman’s effort to end the ban on her gender being able to drive in Saudi Arabia is catching attention around the world. And on Morning Edition today, the editor of Jeddah’s Saudi News said that Manal al-Sharif’s campaign is gaining some traction in Saudi Arabia…….” NPR News
A Saudi woman was arrested yesterday, for the second time, for driving a vehicle. Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans females, that is ‘human’ females, from driving cars (I suspect women in Qandahar can’t drive either: so you get the picture). That is not the news. The real Saudi news is that Saudi women are organizing a drive-in, and it has a chance of success. If many women join.
Success is always a matter of how many come out to defy authority. Last March there was a campaign for protests in Saudi cities to call for freedom and reform. Only one man reportedly showed up in the capital Riyadh to publicly protest and he has not been since his arrest that day. Khaled al-Jehany is unlikely to be in a mood to protest again, if he is released. Defying authority has always been a taboo in Saudi Arabia: religious fatwas and the usual instruments of a police state have been effective in keeping people from defying the authority of the princes and their Wahhabi ulema (clergy) allies under Shaikh Al Al Shaikh.
It is the numbers, stupid. The more who heed the call for protest, the more chance of success. At some point there is enough of the people out (men, women, or otherwise) that the authority has to give in: that was the lesson of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya (almost), and Bahrain (almost). The numbers defy age-old fears. On their coming drive-in day, Saudi women may come out in huge numbers and drive. They may be able to achieve what the men have failed to do: defy authority and win. That is what authority fears: that it will be forced to relent through public protests, that is why they sent tanks into Bahrain. They want any “reform” to be bestowed by the ruler, not a right taken, wrested, by the people as it should be.
I am always for anyone or group that defies any authority anywhere in the Middle East (except the Salafis who always side with repressive and corrupt authority): from Rabat through Riyadh and onto Tehran.
(Go for it ladies: you may be the ones who finally break that wall of fear).