Thursday, May 23, 2013

The veil behind the wheel

This letter to the editor of the Arab News is in response to the story about women drivers in Oman who veil their faces having to show their faces to traffic officers. Here is a link to the original story, and a link to the letter to the editor (text below) is here.


This is in reference to the story “Gulf women drivers reject the idea of removing veil.” I just do not understand the reason for imposing such a ban. Why should there even be a debate over liberty and rights of women that do not impinge on the rights of others?

The belief of Oman traffic police that the veil restricts vision and represents hazard is totally presumptuous and is not based on any scientific study and analysis. It is not at all an issue or a matter of concern involving safety of the drivers, passengers or others on the road when a woman drives a vehicle with her face covered as she can see things as clearly as others without it.

If the traffic police intend to see the face for identity purposes, there are a lot of other means to verify the identity. They could ask for her driving license or an ID card. Further, the technology has given us cheap and easy-to-use fingerprints devices, which could be deployed to verify the true identity of women drivers. There are several other administrative ways and means to monitor the activities of the motorists, including the women driving with veil.

I would wish that the Gulf states do not allow such issues to be hijacked by those who do not lose any opportunity to ridicule and make fun of issues and culture associated with Islam or Muslim communities.
Yes, there is a need to unify the laws and regulations related to traffic violations and offences in the Gulf region. More importantly, they should consider prescribing stricter punishments for reckless driving, including ignoring traffic lights, speeding, zigzag driving, abrupt lane crossing. These traffic violations should be considered criminal felonies and not just traffic misdemeanors. — Safi H. Jannaty, Dammam

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