Thursday, June 28, 2012

iCNN Blogger: Why you should give up driving on Friday

CNN's blogger John D. Sutter writes about iCNN's project to show support for Saudi women driving on Friday, June 29th, 2012. A link to the blog entry here. and the text is below.

By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - CNN iReport is asking people all over the world to give up driving for a day - and document it - in support of women in Saudi Arabia, who aren't allowed to drive because of religious rules in that conservative Middle Eastern kingdom.
Go to the iReport assignment page to learn how to participate.

Here's an example video that already came in from the Philippines.
(Sorry I can't figure out how to embed it here).

CNN plans to stitch some of the best videos together into a highlight reel that will be published online and may be shown on TV. The effort comes as a group of Saudi women, for the second year, are planning to protest Saudi's driving ban by getting behind the wheel and taking to the streets on Friday. The Women2Drive movement asks the women to upload their road trips to YouTube.

On June 17 of last year, dozens of women took to the streets in similar demonstrations.
Manal al-Sharif, whose driving video sparked the protest, was arrested and detained for her involvement.

Here's a profile I wrote after meeting al-Sharif this year. Perhaps the most powerful thing about her story (besides the fact that The Backstreet Boys had a hand in her transforming from Osama bin Laden supporter to human rights activist) is she believes that if Saudi women stand up and take control of their rights, the rest of the country will follow suit. "When women break that taboo and they're not afraid to drive that car by herself - that's it," she said. "Now she has the guts to speak up for herself and take action."

She's encouraged also by the movement's support outside of Saudi Arabia.
Check out a 2011 video of her driving below:

Out of fear for her safety, al-Sharif says she won't participate in the protests on Friday. But the protests are expected to continue in the spirit of that widely circulated video she uploaded last summer.

It's unclear how large the demonstrations will become, but you can follow the conversation about the driving women on CNN, iReport and on the Twitter hashtag #Women2Drive. The group also asks people who support the campaign to change their Twitter avatars to this photo. And Amnesty International also is collecting photos of people who support the driving campaign.

Saudi women have been pushing for the right to drive since the early 1990s, but with little luck. The Saudi kingdom, which enforces a conservative interpretation of Islamic law, also bans women from making formal decisions without the permission of a male guardian. Women don't have the right to vote or hold public office in Saudi Arabia, although that is expected to change in 2015. Earlier this week, the country's London embassy announced it would let women compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Organizers say the Women2Drive movement stands in for many women's rights issues in the country.

iReport: What if you weren't allowed to drive

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