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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.
Women don’t have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, and one woman took a courageous stand on YouTube to protest the law. Wajeha Al-Huwaider, a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia, decided to mark International Women’s Day in 2008 by shooting a video of herself driving and then posting it on YouTube. By posting the video on YouTube, Al-Huwaider was able to get her message out to the masses while still being able to use international exposure as a shield to protect herself from punishment.
Translated, her speech reads as follows:
“Today is of course International Women’s Day. First I would like to congratulate all the women who have achieved their rights and I hope that all the women who are still fighting for their rights will achieve them soon. Of course I am now driving this car in a rural area. In rural areas of the Kingdom, women are allowed to drive cars, unfortunately. However in the cities, in the places where they actually need to drive cars, it is still prohibited. So on the occasion of International Women’s Day, I hope his Excellency the Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz will allow us to drive cars soon. We, the women who signed the petition we sent him today, all hold driving licenses and can drive cars in our cities. Many of us are also willing to help the government train women to apply for driving licenses. The problem of women being banned from driving, as many officials have reiterated, is not a political issue, or a religious issue, but rather a social issue. And we know that there are many women in our society who are capable of driving cars, and there are many families that allow their women to drive. So if the door is opened for these women to drive, I am sure that it will be the better, safer and more effective way to change perceptions that we are not ready to be allowed to drive yet. That is all. I hope that next year, on the next International Women’s Day, this ban will have been lifted.”
See after the jump for the video: