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Awhile back, we told you about women in Saudi Arabia fighting against a law that states they aren’t allowed drive. We told you about Wajeha-Al-Huwaider, a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia, who decided to mark International Women’s Day in 2008 by shooting a video of herself driving and then posting it on YouTube.
Next was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, who wanted to lift the ban in order to send about 750,000 foreign drivers home. The government hasn’t changed their position on the issue, and this time, they are trying to silence Manal al-Sharif, who is campaigning for the rights of woman in her country.
According to the New York Times, Manal al-Sharif had posted videos of herself driving on YouTube, as well as started Facebook and Twitter accounts that encouraged other Saudi women to do the same. But the Saudi government has stepped in – they arrested Sharif, removed her videos from Youtube and deleted a Facebook account that instructed other women on how they could get involved in the movement. And someone even duplicated her Twitter account and posted messages that stated she had given up the cause.
But social media isn’t going to let a little thing like an oppressive government keep it down. Sharif’s message is still circulating on YouTube and an Al Jazeera report on her campaign is still available. You can check out the full report at The New York Times and watch the videos after the jump.
In welcome news, a senior Saudi prince is questioning a ban on women driving. He says by lifting the ban, the Gulf Arab state would help reduce their dependence on millions of foreign workers.
Ruled by the al-Saud family, along with clerics from the strict Wahhabi school of Islam, the state has banned women from driving, and they must be covered from head to toe while in public. As of late, the royal family as been bombarded with calls from activists about making changes, and already, they have brought about some political reforms.
A supporter of this reform is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, who has said that by making this change, they would be able to send about 750,000 foreign drivers home.
“A lot of Saudi women want to drive their car in line with strict regulations and wearing a headscarf. But now they need a driver … This is an additional burden on households,” said Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
For the ban to be lifted, the government must consult with the country’s top Islamic scholars. As of right now, Saudi women must abide by a male “guardianship” system. This means they need to show permission from their guardian, usually their father, brother or husband, to travel to work.