May 24, 2011

Manal al-Sharif, the woman leading the right-to-drive campaign, is arrested by the Saudis.

Was she arrested for driving or for speaking out about the driving ban?
Ms. Sharif was arrested after two much-publicized drives last week to highlight the Facebook and Twitter campaigns she helped organize to encourage women across Saudi Arabia to participate in a collective protest scheduled for June 17.

The campaigns, which had attracted thousands of supporters — more than 12,000 on the Facebook page — have been blocked in the kingdom. Ms. Sharif’s arrest was very likely intended to give others pause before participating in the protests in a country where a woman’s public reputation, including her ability to marry, can be badly damaged by an arrest.

“Usually they just make you sign a paper that you will not do it again and let you go,” said Wajiha Howeidar, who recorded Ms. Sharif while driving on Thursday. “They don’t want anybody to think that they can get away with something like that. It is a clear message that you cannot organize anything on Facebook. That is why she is in prison.”
If she drove to promote the right to drive, that is the form of speech that is civil disobedience. It draws attention to the commission of the crime, and it's not surprising that it attracts arrest. Isn't that the purpose of conspicuous violation — to get arrested and make everyone notice and want to help you? This is working for Manal al-Sharif. But Howeidar's point is that she's really arrested for speaking out on Facebook, not for the driving per se. She wasn't treated like other female drivers, who are let off easily. And there's something wrong with targeting the person who used Facebook to organize.

Isn't the real question is whether women should be allowed to drive, not whether organizing on Facebook incurs harsher punishment when you commit a crime? Think about some other crime — some crime that obviously should be a crime. I hesitate to describe a crime, but let's say some Saudi man thinks women who drive should be dragged out of their cars and beaten. He sets up a Facebook page to promote that opinion and gets 12,000 supporters. Then — twice — he drags a woman out of a car and beats her. Now, he is arrested. Let's say that in Saudi Arabia men who beat women for driving are normally just asked to promise not to do it again. Would you object to making an example out of the man who used Facebook?

33 comments:

shoutingthomas said...

Personally, I think that women, even in Saudi Arabia, should be allowed to drive.

But, if I were a Saudi man, I'd look at what happened in the West and I'd think long and hard before I caved in on this one. Here's what I would consider:

o Hetero males are now laughing stocks in the West

o Being generous and civil not only doesn't get you anything... you're likely to get kicked in the ass with things like quotas that punish you

o Do you want your women to become the piece of shit feminists common to the West?

o Once you open the gates to the destruction of one tradition, the loons will immediately seek to destroy all of your traditions

o Somewhere down the road, the loons will attempt to cram gay marriage down your throat, and they will tell your sons that it's no big deal to be a fag

o The loons will attempt to destroy your society's religious foundations and replace it with doofus TV show morality

So, if I were an Arab man, I'd look long term. The "civil right" crusaders don't stop once their legitimate grievances are met. If I were an Arab man, I might just dig in here and now and refuse to go down the road we've taken in the West.

My bottom line, if I were an Arab man would be: Do I want to become the beaten down ass end of a society that worships vicious feminist women and gays? Or should I insist that men stay at the top?

Fred4Pres said...

They should let her drive the pace car at Indi.

JFB said...

The Saudi media, both English and Arabic, are pointing out the facts that many Saudi women are already driving without problems and that the arguments raised against women's driving are hugely self-contradictory.

I wrote on this today (and earlier, if you scroll down or search the site for "women's driving").

http://xrdarabia.org/2011/05/24/11712/

Scott M said...

and that the arguments raised against women's driving are hugely self-contradictory.

What's contradictory about wanting to maintain power and dominance while keeping others from it? Is it contradictory to want all possible competitors (in whatever arena) to reduced by half, i.e. those with external plumbing?

Seems like a rational course of action when you boil it down.

Scott M said...

I meant to say, leaving only those with external plumbing. When snark goes bad...

shoutingthomas said...

What's contradictory about wanting to maintain power and dominance while keeping others from it? Is it contradictory to want all possible competitors (in whatever arena) to reduced by half, i.e. those with external plumbing?

Well put.

The important thing to remember here, is that women, if granted the freedoms they have in the West, will be precisely the same. They will want to "reduce by half" their possible competitors.

In other words, the outcome won't be equality. Look at what happened in the West. The outcome, if you relinquish power and dominance, is that women will attempt to dominate and degrade men.

I hope that Saudi men don't fool themselves the way Western men did.

nevadabob said...

"Isn't the real question is whether women should be allowed to drive ..."

Stop imposing your immoral Western values on a Muslim religion you can't understand, Ann because you have never lived the experience.

Of course women should not be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Next thing you know, they'll start thinking they're equal or something.

That's cruel to Muslim women.

In Islamic culture, women are property - like furniture. You do them a disservice saying otherwise by suggesting they be allowed to do everything a man is allowed to do.

That only gets their hopes up and sends a confusing message.

shoutingthomas said...

In Islamic culture, women are property - like furniture. You do them a disservice saying otherwise by suggesting they be allowed to do everything a man is allowed to do.

I really doubt that it is true that "women are property - like furniture" in Islamic culture.

Feminists said the same fucking thing in the West and they were lying. The feminist liars also liked to say that they were just like blacks in the Jim Crow south, and they were lying through their teeth about that one, too.

Once again, I hope that Saudi men are smarter than we were. The first rule: Don't get your feelings hurt because some crusading piece of shit calls you an asshole.

Crusaders are always lying con artists. Don't trust a word they say.

Watch the recent Anthony Bourdain show about his visit to Saudi Arabia. Don't buy into the lying crusaders and con artists.

G Joubert said...

Living in a free and pluralistic society is a real bitch.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Saudis already face big problems with terrorism why add more problems with women drivers?

Trooper York said...

I think they should ban Asians from driving.

I was in a bus in Chinatown on Sunday and I was never so scared in all my life.

Trooper York said...

That's what always freaked me out about Star Trek and made think it was all bullshit.

I mean they had Sulu drive the Enterprise.

shoutingthomas said...

Living in a free and pluralistic society is a real bitch.

Well, yes, that certainly does boil it down to its essence.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"...I mean they had Sulu drive the Enterprise..."

Well if it had been Uhura or Chapel, it would have to be called Lost in Space. Thats why they had traditional roles as operator and nurse.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Yeoman Rand of course was there for Kirk when the green chick was busy.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I would have never guessed Sulu was gay either. I mean Chekov had the lisp most noticeable when he said 'wessel'.

Beorn said...

I don't gauge Islam by the propaganda of apologists (like CAIR). I look at countries around the world that have Muslim majorities, and see how they treat women, minorities, etc.

Religion of peace?!

MamaM said...

Vive le Peuple

A woman driver with hair flowing, moves a group forward in one of the street murals a graffiti artist with Zoo Project recently produced as a response to the Tunisian uprising this year.

The side view is fun as the focus shifts from the woman driving to the precarious pile of people on board and the figure of a man flying along behind.

Joanna said...

Let's prioritize the issues here. If Saudi women don't drive, how will they show ID to vote?

deborah said...

Here is a playlist of youtube clips from a cute BBC documentary about a women's driving school in Afghanistan, run by men.

http://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=CmRUJkgRy50&feature=list_related&
playnext=1&list=SPE882
74A9E7471B1D

Roman said...

Welcome to the 21st century.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"...Let's prioritize the issues here. If Saudi women don't drive, how will they show ID to vote?..."

See, give them an inch and they want to start running things.

traditionalguy said...

The biggest fear in Saudi Arabia is equality for women. Arab men's fear of death is taken care of by their belief in allah. They just kill some infidels and get a special heaven package. But their fear of disrespect from a real live woman drives them insane. They may all have a small penis syndrome. Mohammed liked the preteens girls who made his penis seem larger.

Richard Dolan said...

"Isn't the real question is whether women should be allowed to drive, not whether organizing on Facebook incurs harsher punishment when you commit a crime?"

I suppose it depends on who's doing the asking, and what they are aiming at. Facebook was prominent in the uprising in Egypt, and a relative small incident was the flashpoint in Tunisia. If that's the frame of reference, then the driving is trivial and the Facebook stuff is the natural focus of attention. Singling her out for treatment as a criminal is merely the means by which the Saudi authorities are trying to neutralize a potential political problem before it becomes more than that.

The whole episode seems like a nervous reaction by a ruling elite that justifies its claim to power in terms of tradition rather than consent. It's a bit reminicent of Azar Nafisi's tale of the veil among university women in the early days of the Iranian revolution -- the mullahs thought they had to crack down on even a little hair or patch of skin peeking out from under the chador, lest small acts of rebellion might turn into something bigger. Given what else is going on in the Mideast, I think both the Saudis and (with luck) the Iranians have grounds to be concerned about their hold on power.

rhhardin said...

The right to bicycle is next.

Hagar said...

Hey Ahmed! How come American women can pilot Apache attack helicopters and C-130 gunships, and I can't have a lousy driver's license!? Hey, why is that, Ahmed?
Hey?

W's wars are causing change that can't be stopped.

Maguro said...

In reality, Saudi men shouldn't be allowed to drive either. They're worse than the Koreans, which is saying something.

DaveW said...

"Saudis already face big problems with terrorism why add more problems with women drivers?"

LMAO!

HKatz said...

I really doubt that it is true that "women are property - like furniture" in Islamic culture.

Your doubt might stem from the fact that it's a simplistic statement.

It really depends on where in the Islamic world you live. And rather than rely on anyone's word here, you can actually read up on what goes on there (and their laws and practices) from people who actually live there, if you're interested.

There are plenty of places where sharia law is strictly applied and where women and girls are essentially chattel or property in every realm of life (sold off as pre-teens or teens in marriage, unable to find recourse in the justice system for any form of degradation and abuse). Their individual treatment might vary from one family to another to some extent, but their individual rights to anything don't amount to much.

In general the places that treat women like chattel also have a pretty grim treatment of men. People here mistakenly think that the men are kings of the land, and while it's true that a man can have great power over his particular family, the lives of individual common men are valued little and they live under the thumb of even more powerful men who can crush them as they please. Also the abuse, including sexual abuse, of boys and young men is rampant (read up on the bacha bazi in Afghanistan for instance). These societies are deeply dysfunctional on a number of levels, for everyone - in part because individual human life isn't held in great esteem.

The ideal society will value and respect everyone's individual rights. Unfortunately human nature being what it is, while there are people who champion individual rights there are also others who see things forever as extremes, as endless power struggles; there are no individuals, only faceless homogeneous entities belonging to different groups.

Maybe we will attain a balanced society one day. But there is no perfect society, no utopia. Personally I feel gratitude living in the US, of all the places in the world.

deborah said...

"The right to bicycle is next."

Get ahold of yourself.

Bob Ellison said...

What a silly hypothetical! Would I object? No, because the man would be a self-publicizing jerk. Do I object to a freedom fighter who self-publicizes? No, because she's not.

Morality doesn't disappear just because you want to make the question interesting. The question fails because morality prevails. And yes, of course I'm assuming absolute morality here.

Lyle said...

I want to make love to these Saudi women. They are so sexy.

abeer ahmed said...

visit us on lifeandstylemag.com
http://whois.domaintasks.com/lifeandstylemag.com