Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another Saudi woman briefly detained for flouting driving ban

This story from the Arab News of September 28, 2011 about a woman detained in Riyadh for driving. She said she took to the wheel out of happiness for the King's recent announcement about women getting the vote and joining the Shoura Consultative Council as full members. Story is pasted in below and the link to the story is here.

Another Saudi woman briefly detained for flouting driving ban

RIYADH: Another woman was briefly detained on Wednesday for driving through the streets of Riyadh while being filmed by a foreign reporter.

The woman, identified as Madeeha, was unable to speak to Arab News as she had lost her voice due to an infection. In an e-mail, she wrote: “I really think it is ironic and funny for me to lose my voice when I need it the most.”

While she was being filmed by the woman reporter, Madeeha voiced her feelings of joy over Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s decision to give more political power to women.

“The more we publicly voice our needs the more I feel the king is responding to our demands,” Madeeha said.

She said she is not intimidated by the arrest, as she believes the more people voice their support for women driving, the sooner they will be recognized as full citizens.

“It is clear that women have been asking for the right to vote and run in the municipal elections and be part of the Shoura Council. This will be a real encouragement for women to continually ask for their basic right to drive,” she said.

The foreign reporter was protected by her embassy, and was let go by the police.
Madeeha told the woman that she would be all right.

“The reporter could not help herself but cry,” she said, adding that if Saudis want to be part of the global economy they cannot discriminate against women.

She was referring to a court’s decision to hand down a fine and a sentence of 10 lashes to Shayma Jastaniah for driving her vehicle in Jeddah. 

“We as a nation have to start dealing with the needs of our growing and complicated society,” Madeeha said.

Madeeha said that she drove out of total happiness over the king’s speech, and was not aware of Shayma's case, nor did she think that the police would take her into custody.

Madeeha signed a pledge not to drive again and was released.She will not have to face a court.

Commenting on the case, lawyer Sultan bin Zahem said nothing in Islam bans women from driving. He said the sentence handed to Shayma was not for breaching Islamic law, but the country's regulations and bylaws.

“It is a deterrent punishment and is based on the judge's discretion to end any activity that could breach laws and cause chaos,” he said.

Zahem said the foreign reporter involved in Madeeha’s case should have faced some punishment.

Zahem said the signs were women would be allowed to drive soon. “The current rapid developments and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s decisions are landmarks,” he said, pointing out that if the Saudi woman was to be trusted with a leading role in government, they would soon be able to get behind the steering wheel.

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