I found myself once again living between worlds last night as the beginning of the evening saw me at a large church, seated around a table wrapping up an 8 week course designed for people who are curious about Christianity, followed by staying past midnight at a party hosted by a woman from Saudi Arabia, Maha.
Maha is a beautiful woman. She is a mom of three, has her Masters and her PhD and if that isn’t enough, she is also an artist. Among many other things, we began talking about Saudi Arabia and women driving. She stated that there is no law on the books that says it is illegal for women to drive. It’s a law in enforcement only, based on an extreme interpretation of Islam . She alerted me to something I hadn’t picked up in the mainstream news. Today a group of Saudi women are taking to the streets…in cars.
Just as the spring has come and brought change to the Arab world, today, June 17, 2011, Saudi women have planned their own call for change. Their call? For women in Saudi Arabia to protest the ban on driving by going out in large numbers in their cars. On May 22nd, Manal-el-Sharif, a Saudi activist, filmed herself driving and posted it on Youtube. Despite her arrest, the campaign with a twitter name of Women2Drive and a Facebook page of the same, is not slowing down and today is the day where Saudi women are calling for solidarity worldwide.
As they take to the streets in their cars, they are asking all of us to come alongside them in support. If you can, put a sign on your car that says “Honk twice if you support Saudi women drivers”. There is also a YouTube sight for you to post videos of driving and honking in support of the movement. This is so easy to do, it takes no effort on our parts but can show a group of women that we support their strength and their desire to be able to drive.
It is way too easy for the west to sit back and criticize the Muslim world. Today is a day to support and honk for change. So as you get in the car and turn the key starting your engine, make sure you honk twice and remember to say “You go Girls!”
- Saudi women defy driving ban (businessinsider.com)
- Friday protest – Activist says Saudi women defying driving ban (theglobeandmail.com)
- Campaign Protests Saudi Arabia’s Ban On Women Behind The Wheel (npr.org)
- Saudi women challenge driving ban – Herald Sun (news.google.com)
- Social Media Help Keep the Door Open to Sustained Dissent Inside Saudi Arabia (textually.org)