We are witnessing another revolutionary movement via social media, as Saudi women use Twitter and Facebook to mobilze and fight for their rights. Currently, women in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from driving by a religious fatwa that is supported by conservative Muslim clerics. Today marks the official start of “Women 2 Drive” which seeks to challenge the ban. According to the BBC, the women are not organizing a large protest, but are starting by asking that women who have drivers licenses issued by other countries be allowed to drive.
Manal al-Sherif was arrested last month for “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion” after uploading a picture of herself driving to the internet. She was released ten days later after promising that she wouldn’t drive again.
Another driver, Maha al-Qahtan, tells the BBC that she is tired of not being able to do what she needs to do without waiting for a man to escort her. “It is not out of love for driving or traffic or the experience. All this is about is that if I wanted to go to work, I can go. If I needed something I can go and get it. I think that society is ready to welcome us.”
Computer specialist Maha al-Qahtani told her husband ” I decided that the car for today is mine.” She drove around the capital for some 45 minutes and was prepared for the possibiluty of being imprisoned.
A 1990 protest of the ban resulted in the arrest of 47 women, many of whom lost their jobs as a result.
An unnamed woman stated “It’s not one of your major rights. But we tell them that even if you give us all the basic and big rights, that you are claiming are more important than driving, we can’t enjoy practising those rights because the mobility is not there. We can’t move around without a male.”
Those in favor of the motoring ban feel that it is essential to prevent Saudi women from travelling alone or with unrelated men.