Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breaking down the social barriers - columnist from Al-Medina

Columnist Abdullah al-Moallami wrote the following column in the Saudi daily, Al-Medina, and it was reprinted in the English daily Arab News. It quotes a young Saudi woman's poetry. The link to the story is here.

Local press: Breaking down the social barriers


Published: Aug 20, 2011 23:24 Updated: Aug 20, 2011 23:24

I am the woman … listen to me.

Listen to the purr of my engine … it is starting.

I am a woman fighting for the right, and I let the flag of the truth flutter high.

I’m the woman … I know that you all love me, and at the same time worry about me.

But today I break all the barriers that stifle my voice. That voice will never be muffled from now on, for my silence is the mark of my prison.

I am the woman … Watch how fast I am on my course with scant regard for the power of the engine that I drive. Power is not the yardstick of this race.

I am the woman … the Saudi woman … the Muslim woman … how often our mothers rode on the back of camels, horses or mules. But now I follow their tracks driving a four-wheeler with flashing tires.

I am the woman … your sister … whom you have left weak and paralyzed to suffer harassments at the hands of a strange driver who knows more about me than you brothers do.

I am the woman … Don’t make me cheap, subordinate and submissive, and don’t think I am ignorant or na├»ve and do not know what is good for me … Treat me well to prove your claim that I am your sister.

I am the woman … I don’t compete with you … I don’t challenge you in anything. Each one of us has our separate roles, status and objectives.

I am the woman … Don’t be afraid of me, don’t be anxious about me, I am an intelligent human being like you with two hands, two legs and two eyes and then why should you worry if I drive?

I am the woman … capable of taking care of myself … no need for alarm. Where are my keys, please?

These are lines from a poem written by a young Saudi woman. It is high time to take a clear stand on the issue of women driving. If it is religiously unlawful then forget about it. But, if it is an issue to be evaluated on its merits and demerits, as is the case with many other issues that we come across in our daily life, let us put the matter before our rulers.

The members of the Shoura Council should rush to discuss the issue, draft regulations that protect the interests of society and pass it to the king.

It is also time that writers and columnists, both men and women, end their heated debates, stop exaggerating and using a tone of intimidation so that those who are striving for a solution have a peaceful and balanced environment to work in.

One word to the men, whom I call “the campaigners of Iqal (men’s headband).”

Manhood does not mean threatening your women with promises to strike them with your Iqals or mocking them when they demand their rights, including the right to drive.

On the other hand, manhood involves dealing firmly with the men who harm or harass women whether they are behind the wheel or in the backseat of a car.

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