Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Driving While Female (and Muslim)

Saudi Arabia has a long history of treating women as second class citizens. Honor killings are known in all Muslim countries, including that one. But the barbarity of Islam extends even to such relatively trivial things as driving.

In America, driving while black can get you hassled in some areas. In Saudi Arabia driving while female can get you thrown in jail.
Qatif, 12 August (AKI) - Saudi religious police have arrested a woman in the region of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia for driving a car.

The 47-year-old woman was spotted by agents from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after other men reported the woman, said Saudi daily Okaz.

The woman was later released after her family posted bail, and will now be put on trial.
Oddly, and horrifically, jail is a possibility even though it is not illegal for females to drive there.
There is no law in Saudi Arabia that prevents women from driving. However, fatwas or religious edicts, have been issued by Wahhabi scholars saying it is sinful for women to drive.
But, then, perhaps it shouldn't be viewed as odd. The rule of law is, after all, incompatible with arbitrary Islamic dictates. Yet, other Islamic authorities contend there is nothing in Islam that forbids women from driving.
“In principle women driving is permitted in Islam,” said Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, a member of the Kingdom’s Council of Senior Islamic Scholars.

The ban, he said, has to do with the social complications rather than the act itself. As an example, the sheikh referred to a fatwa from former Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin-Baz that said it is permitted for women in rural areas to drive cars, but that they should be forbidden from driving in the cities where, as Al-Obaikan said, “youths (even) harass women accompanied by parents and drivers."
Ah... the veil begins to lift a bit, so to speak. It's those pesky men, from whom the ever-concerned officials have to protect the women. Like when they punish an uncle who kills his niece for having sex. Oh, wait, they didn't.

Still, there is hope on the horizon for the distaff sex in Saudi.
[The Sheikh] said if certain issues are resolved, such as the problem of men’s behavior and traffic safety, then he sees no religiously motivated conflict with women driving.
It's very good of the Sheikh to be concerned, don't you know. And it is awfully forward-thinking of him and others to be working so hard to solve the problem. Which they will probably do right around the time they stop funding madrassahs that teach students to join the global jihad. Sometime in the next century...

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