Saudi king pardons woman driver

2011-09-28 23:21

Jeddah - Saudi King Abdullah has revoked a sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman for breaking the ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom, a Saudi princess said on Wednesday on her Twitter account.

"Thank God, the lashing of Sheima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I'm sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am," said Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

"In tough times we stand together; in good times we celebrate together," the princess said. "I'm proud to be Saudi. To all Active Saudi women thank u for ur (sic) efforts."

Sheima Jastaniah was sentenced on Monday by a court in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, where she was caught driving in July, a rights activist said.

"We were shocked yesterday [Monday] that she was sentenced to 10 lashes," the activist said, adding Jastaniah would appeal the verdict.

The sentence came a day after the king announced women would be allowed to vote and to run in municipal polls, and to join the all-appointed Shura [consultative] Council, a first in a country that imposes many restrictions on women.

Amnesty International condemned the sentence, saying it demonstrated the "scale of discrimination against women in the kingdom".

"Flogging is a cruel punishment in all circumstances but it beggars belief that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have imposed lashes on a woman apparently for merely driving a car," Middle East and North Africa deputy director Philip Luther said in a statement.

Face flogging

"Belatedly allowing women to vote in council elections is all well and good, but if they are still going to face being flogged for trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement then the king's much-trumpeted 'reforms' actually amount to very little," he added.

"Saudi Arabia needs to go much further. The whole system of women's subordination to men in Saudi Arabia needs to be dismantled," added the official from the London-based advocacy group.

Also on Tuesday, women rights activist Madiha al-Ajrush was detained briefly in Riyadh after she was caught driving around the capital with a French freelance journalist who was working on a video documentary on women.

The journalist said she herself was set free after her consulate intervened, while Ajrush was later released according to posts by the Women2Drive campaign on the group's Twitter page.

Women2Drive said police requested a male guardian to sign a pledge that Ajrush would not drive, but when no one was reached, she was told to sign herself and leave.

A group of defiant Saudi women got behind the wheels of their cars on June 17 in response to calls for nationwide action to break the ban.

The call spread through Facebook and Twitter was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished after demonstrating in cars.

The is no law banning women from driving. But the minister of interior formally banned women from driving following the protest staged in 1990.

Ajrush was one of the women who took part in the protest.

  • slg - 2011-09-28 23:28

    Well done. Now how about that dumb law that requires women to have the written approval of a male to travel abroad and receive surgical medical treatment?

      Sharief - 2011-09-29 11:05 they need protests in France to be allowed to wear their niqab(head scarf)

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-29 11:24

      @ slg - or how about when you say "talaq talaq talaq" and instantly get divorced that way?

  • MyWereld - 2011-09-29 05:29

    SA should appoint the Saudi minister in SA. He would then impose this law here. It will send a lot of ripples through the ether. And please note, NO REFERENCE TO RACE! Racing the car, yes; race of the driver, no. Let's see whether some of the humans commenting, can really read what is written

  • BarryW - 2011-09-29 06:26

    We should question the spirit of car manufacturers (especially the popular ones in Saudi like Merc, GM and Toyota). They will have some questions to answer regarding their corporate image given their investment and representation in a country where there is discrimination in terms of who may use their products... If these marques decide to close their dealerships in Saudi it may have a huge impact on the pace of gender reforms....

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 07:04

      Nice idea, Barry, but I really can't see any major producer caring two figs about anything other than profit.

      RACINGCAT - 2011-09-29 11:51

      Like telling MBSA and BMW to close their dealerships here because their products are bought by crooked government officials..

  • capetonian - 2011-09-29 08:18

    This is a patriarchial society, like so many Middle Eastern states - and where fundamentalist religions control the day to day lifes' of citizens, you will find this behaviour. The Taliban in Afganistan must be the worst when it comes to the treatment of women. Hopefully the "Arab Spring" revolts will bring about much needed changes as it is the youth who are primarily fed up with absence of freedoms we take for granted!

      Sharief - 2011-09-29 11:08

      Women around the world no matter colour,race or faith still faces abuse...

      Victoria - 2011-09-29 11:32

      @ Sharief. Absolutely. But under many fundamentalist governments where Sharia law is imposed, this abuse is legal!!! Legalising abuse doesn't make it any less abusive you moron.

  • Margaret - 2011-09-29 10:22

    This is indeed GOOD news. The Saudis should go all the way to free up their women. I have no doubt that they will find real gold in their female population, if only they are allowed to live as equals with the men.

      Sharief - 2011-09-29 11:09

      Good news indeed,now if teh western world can free their women from prostitution,dancing on tables in strip clubs as well as teenage pregnancies,dont u think

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 12:01

      One need not constantly compare something with something else just as heinous. It actually holds no water, logically. Something wrong isn't just made right because someone else does something wrong. That sort of reasoning is just pathetic.

  • Luapolku - 2011-09-29 10:53

    Where is Met, gone into hiding I see

      Sharief - 2011-09-29 11:12

      Now the Western world needs to free thier women from abuse,prostitution,teenage pregnancies,dancing on tables in strip clubs,cocaine addiction as well as being homosexual...oh,ya and what about the freedom of women to wear their Niqab(headscarf) in France..

  • Crispy_Duck - 2011-09-29 11:22

    Isn't religion awesome....

      legens - 2011-09-29 11:33

      You mean Islam? yes its great . should be expunged as must all religions.

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-29 11:43

      Alternatively Legens, you can leave us people of faith/religion free to practice our beliefs as is enshrined in the constitution, and emigrate to North Korea, where you will be happy to live in a place where religion is banned...

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 12:03

      Well Matt, perhaps you should follow your own code here. Your little dig at Islam above (when speaking of divorce) is hardly butting out of the matter. Or is OK to crit Islam?

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-29 12:08

      @ Daaivark - there is a difference between debating each other's viewpoint, and saying that all viewpoints should be expunged...

      daaivark - 2011-09-29 12:22

      Hmmm. So you say that this: "how about when you say "talaq talaq talaq" and instantly get divorced that way?" is an example of useful debate? Interesting.

      legens - 2011-09-29 12:22

      @ Matt and you and your missus can go to Saudi Arabia or Iran and she can drive you around (don`t forget to take your slaves).Go and see how great religion is and please don`t say its Islam and you don`t support it. its a religion the practises of which are very much the same as yours was not so long ago. and please read my comment again, i don`t suggest that you may not exchange views . you just can`t handle / defend an attack on your religious beliefs . get over it .

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-29 12:32

      @ Legens - so what did you mean by expunging all religions? ex·punge /?k'sp?nd?/ Show Spelled[ik-spuhnj] verb (used with object), -punged, -pung·ing. 1. to strike or blot out; erase; obliterate. 2. to efface; wipe out or destroy. So Legens, by stating "i don`t suggest that you may not exchange views", either you are: 1) using the wrong word 2) covering up 3) lying "Go and see how great religion is and please don`t say its Islam and you don`t support it" Well what else would you have me say, as you have basically answered the question for me? Besides, your comment has built-in assumption and views so honestly, why would I reply? But it's OK, I understand - you're open-minded and enlightened :-) @ Daaivark - well, I don't see anyone saying I'm wrong - if someone wants to say I'm wrong, we can happily debate it. Unlike Legens, I didn't say "oh and by the way, expunge Muslims".

      legens - 2011-09-29 13:04

      @well Matt .. isn`t it just like you religious folk .insist that you have certain rights .. like to debate and when the debate turns against you (can`t answer ) you go on the attack and get like to dish it out , but can`t take a nutshell ,i expressed my view that all religion should be expunged ( i still do) and you see this as meaning to expunge viewpoint ? doesn`t make sense , but hey , you religious folk are known for twisting texts and words to suit the occasion . by the way how many edits has your great book gone through by now ? i believe its going through another to suit modern interpretation and gender neutrality ( yes , just like Islam you guys weren`t very nice to women).

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-29 13:38

      @ Legens - oh whatever... firstly, ad hominem is a common tactic used by atheists in the Atheist-Christian and Creation-Evolution debates; in this case, you said all religions must be expunged; I explained what the word "expunge" means because either you don't know, or are covering up your mistake. If you do NOT claim that you want all religions expunged, then use a different word! "all religion should be expunged ( i still do) and you see this as meaning to expunge viewpoint ? doesn`t make sense" No, you don't. Suppose all religions were expunged - then there would be no religious viewpoints TO expunge. "by the way how many edits has your great book gone through by now ? i believe its going through another to suit modern interpretation and gender neutrality" Know your Bible :-) a KJV was translated from Masoretic texts and Textus Receptus. Nothing has changed since 1611, bar correction of spelling up till 1729. As for the new translations and versions which "twist", hey I agree brother! They're from the Alexandrian Textus Sinaiticus which are rubbish. I probably hate the "twisted" ones more than you! "( yes , just like Islam you guys weren`t very nice to women)." A metaphor to a Christian marriage would be "man = engine, woman = fuel". The man is the driving force, but useless without the woman. Bible speaks of the woman revering her husband; the husband should die for her if need be. And your point is? Dahmer wasn't nice to his victims either as an atheist...

      legens - 2011-09-29 13:48

      there you go again Matt , twisting and turning , changing the topic , trying to add .stick to the point . we are not interpreting a text from the bible and please keep away from that nasty little word "hate" . i don`t hate ,that`s a term /word created by you lot . disagree is appropriate and as for "brother " i do hope you are not referring to christian brotherhood . now that`s something i can learn to hate

  • cat - 2011-09-29 11:33

    @Sharief, what on earth are you still doing in a country where all these terrible women are doing such dastardly deeds??????? Please, leave for Saudi where you will blend in quite nicely with all the sexist little men and their paranoid phobias regarding women. And if you don't leave, then please refrain from making women-hating comments on public platforms - you're not doing your kind or the struggle for niqab wearing in France any favours.

  • Libertador - 2011-09-29 13:05

    We need to stop glorifying religion. We need to promote the clear observation that religion breeds ignorance and reduces motivation and creativity. It wastes time and promotes inequality among races and genders. We need to clearly discourage religion and glorify creativity and industriousness.

      legens - 2011-09-29 13:22

      Amen to that

  • Rohin - 2011-12-07 09:20

    Woman can tweet but they can't drive. How odd.

  • ruben.maistry - 2011-12-28 20:39

    Sharief, change your sex and go live in Afghanistan.Experience what happens to the women folk.

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