A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.
Making Tuesday's sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women's rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.
The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday's sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.
"Our king doesn't deserve that," said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, "The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction."
The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina's family, said she appealed the verdict.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women — both Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
Saudi Arabian clerics, The Canadian Press 61 Comments
[10/1/2011 5:26:21 AM]
Fundie Index: 76
Submitted By: Brendan Rizzo
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Does the USA supports this country?
10/2/2011 9:18:07 AM
Yes, the US supports this Muslim country. The reason is our dependence on foreign oil. This is one thing that conservatives and liberals almost see eye to eye on. The thing, I believe we need to get serious about domestic oil drilling, including overturning ANWAR and other regulations that prevent drilling in wilderness areas. This can be responsibly done with green fuels, etc., also being developed. It needs to be an "all hands on deck" approach.
10/2/2011 6:48:23 PM
Theocractic laws? Check.
People using following two by allowing their hate-ridden bigotry and misogyny to be there?
Welp, sounds like paradise for old american fundies. There should be a charity drive "Buy a plane ticket for every fundie to get them out of US"
10/3/2011 4:01:42 AM
There ya go, teabaggers. Move to Saudi Arabia where gods laws are strictly enforced.
fapping4him: The reason we we put our neck in the Saudi noose is because American oil started running out in 1971. This drill baby drill shit is just teabagger propganda. It has no application to the real world. You might as well say Harry Potter will wave his magic wand to make our cars go.
Shale methane results in flammable toxic tapwater, exploding wells and dead grazing fields but as long as the gas company gets its millions STFU and vote for batshit Shelly.
The Saudi driving ban originated in the first gulf war. The fundier Saudi fundies wanted it to be banned but women still drove. When the US military was invited in to stop Saddam the non-royal fundies went insane with rage that thousands of jews with guns were entering the country. To prevent a revolt, the old king threw them a bone - he completely banned women driving.
The present king seems less fundie, he had a university built named after himself where sexes can mix, women can wear less than a full black bag with eyeholes, and the religious police are not allowed on campus. This is equivalent to allowing gay orgies in a high school in Alabama.
10/3/2011 4:53:57 AM
Absolutely. Finally we agree on something. We need to not just drill for oil, we need to tap our natural gas fields rich with methane, propane, helium, and other noble gases. We should erect more wind farms and work harder on the many types of solar. Nuclear is pretty much okay as is, and so is hydroelectric. Genetically engineered Biofuels are the future. Coal is done for, and so is foreign oil. Both are more trouble than they're worth. The Chinese know this.
Essentially, our economy is completely beholden to a single substance and the fluctuations thereof. This is environmentally destructive and unacceptable. Not to mention it props up horrid regimes like Saudi Arabia and Canada.
10/3/2011 7:13:41 AM
Meanwhile an asteroid hurtles towards earth, threatening to make all life extinct.
The humans were too busy worrying about women driving, gays getting married and if this holy book makes their god look fat, to notice the rock.
Now there are no more humans.
10/3/2011 3:03:29 PM
It's a joy if you're a boy but if you're a girl it's the worst place in the world.
10/3/2011 7:25:29 PM
Fucking Wahabis. They give a bad name to Muslims everywhere.
10/4/2011 3:00:09 PM
Yeah, I usually preffer to not use these kind of expressions but... fuck that shitter of a country.
10/5/2011 8:29:52 PM
this is what happens when you weave cultural bias into religion and law.
i doubt there is a single verse in the koran or the hadiths they could produce that would clearly without twisting the text, say that women can't drive.
heck most of the crap saudi arabia does that gets reported is produced by twisting their religion and basically turning primitive cultural oppression into religion and law.
10/6/2011 12:09:40 AM
Passing Muslim Chick
I hate you people. I really, really hate you. Claiming to be such perfectly religous muslims, when you're own government goes against Islam. There is no such thing as monarchy in Islam, only democracy. When Muhammad SAW was on his death bed he asked Abu Bakar pbuh to lead the people after him, and asked his fellow companions surrounding him if this was right. They agreed with him. That was indirect democracy. So tell me, why do you have a monarchy, which is not a part of Islam, and claim to be an Islamic country. Bring democracy to your government, bring equality and bring sensibility. Until then, you are a disgusting embarresment.
10/29/2011 5:00:52 PM
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