Women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia (yes, there actually are women in this ultra-repressive female-hating culture willing to risk life and limb to help move their country a smidgen or two out of the Middle Ages), are planning a demonstration on June 17th to protest the arrest of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi sister who has been jailed for defying her country’s ban on distaff drivers. And of course, what better way to demonstrate for the equal right of unfettered maneuverability than for women to slide behind the wicked wheel of flighty freedom and roar on down that revolutionary road in search of the 21st century.
But lest we not grasp the hard realities that women must face in challenging the Saudi status quo, let us take note of the Iqal Campaign. In anticipation of these haughty damsels daring to press the pedal to the mettle, a Facebook page is urging Saudi men to put these brazen hussies in their proper places by physically assaulting them. The Iqal Campaign is urging Saudi men to beat any woman who dares to drive a car by hitting them with iqals, the cords used to hold the traditional Arab headdress in place. According to Breitbart.com, this Facebook page has over 6,000 Likes. One has to wonder why Facebook is allowing the use of their social networking site for the advocacy of violence against women. Perhaps Mr. Zuckerberg’s internet kingdom is not very concerned about the violent vagaries of Middle-Eastern men.
But some Saudi males have managed to take a psychic leap into the modern world. The Facebook page, Protecting Saudi Women on 17 June is encouraging men to show up for the demonstration to help protect the women drivers who turn out for the freewheeling drive for freedom. And with the arrest of Manal al-Sharif, there has been a mushrooming of other supportive groups on Facebook and elsewhere. Nice to know that there are so many good people around the globe who truly care about the plight of our Third World sisters. Unlike the National Organization for Women which seems to be too busy now a days pandering to the multicultural hankerings of their progressive men to give a bloody hoot about the lives of real women.
With all the publicity this event is attracting, the Saudi government is getting a bit worried over the Women on Wheels movement and is now trying to silence the dissident voices. A Facebook page called We Are All Manal al-Sharif was actively recruiting women for the June protest until the Saudi government had the page pulled the other day. And there are now reports that members of Manal al-Sharif’s family have also been arrested. Even though there is no civil law that prohibits women from driving, Saudi society is strictly managed by the religious zealots who have the power to arrest and imprison. These are the fakirs calling the shots.
Keep in mind that Saudi women are also forbidden to take public transportation. Their lives are completely circumscribed by an abusive medieval patriarchy.
Here is the courageous Manal al-Sharif taking her daring drive through the streets of Saudi Arabia. She’s currently sitting in a prison cell for having the audacity to buck this repressive male-dominated nation.