Archive for the 'Saudi Arabia' Category

Syrian Links

Drop any links that you think may be useful for getting to grips with ‘Syrian issues’ in this thread.

Here is a sample .




“Women who drive give birth to children “with clinical disorders of varying degrees.”

Saudi women drivers detained

“Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Luhaydan said campaigners should put “the mind before the heart and emotion, and look at this issue with a realistic eye.”” These comments are by a Saudi psychologist asserting that driving affects women’s ovaries and can lead to their children having health problems. This sentiment has outraged Saudi women in the conservative Muslim country, 11,000 of which have signed a petition protesting a de facto ban on women driving.

Saudi women are buckling up for social change. Meanwhile, writers such as Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood urges his 97,000 twitter followers to grope women who dare occupy public space. Or clerics who believe that women driving is evil no less. In places like Saudi Arabia victims of crime are often punished rather than the perpetrator. Saudi women activists were recently jailed for assisting a starving woman locked in her home. Think recent weirdo American hostage crimes and know that this kind of thing is not an aberration in near/Sharia societies and also that providing assistance to the vulnerable regularly brings medical professionals/social workers etc., into the harsh spot light of the black shirts that rule the streets. And what about this? “Saudi Arabia hopes to put imprisoned Al-Qaeda militants on the right path and make them drop their thoughts of jihad by offering them spa treatments, exercise and counseling at a new luxurious rehabilitation facility in the capital, Riyadh.”

The country’s first female law firm in Saudi Arabia will certainly have its hands full.


The country’s first female law firm has opened its doors to protect women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, two months after its founder along with three other female lawyers were granted licenses to practice law in the traditionally patriarchal kingdom.

Now Saudi women can seek help, advice and legal aid from Bayan Mahmoud Al Zahran, the first Saudi woman lawyer who launched the female law firm in Jeddah.

Zahran told Arab News that her law firm is ready to fight for the rights of Saudi women and relate women’s cases to the court, a task which her male counterparts at times cannot understand or handle.

“I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step,” Zahran said.

The lawyer also stressed that she is eager to work on labor cases and business disputes involving women but will work with both genders.

“Our activity is not restricted to cases involving only women. Saudi Arabia’s legal system treats men and women equally and a lawyer has the right to represent men and women,” Zahran told Al Arabiya News Channel on Thursday.

The launch was attended by a number of Saudi officials and members from the NGO community, including Mazen Batterjee, vice president of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.

Batterjee stressed the importance of Shariah law Saudi courts, adding that female attorneys should follow the restrictions of the court for hijab while presenting themselves before a judge.

Zahran’s father, Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Zahran, praised his daughter’s efforts.

“We are very proud of our daughter who stands firm for protection of women’s rights. This will help all women who couldn’t go and speak to male lawyers about their problems,” he said.

Zahran hopes that her firm’s example will lead to more female lawyers.

“This is a very positive step toward the Saudi court and justices as right now, we are four female lawyers who got the license, but I am hopeful that in future, the number will increase,” she added.

Bayan Zahran, Jihan Qurban, Sarra Al Omari and Ameera Quqani became the first female legal representatives in Saudi Arabia in October, when the country issues licenses, allowing them to change their status from legal consultants to attorneys, thus lifting the ban imposed on female law graduates to practice.

The initial plan of the justice ministry was to allocate licenses to family status cases, but the final decision did not impose any limits on fields of law practice.

Conditions to obtain the license are the same for men and women and include a university degree in law and three years of training.

Women in the ultra-conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia usually maintain a traditional place inside the household. Many details in the lives of Saudi women are closely regulated by Sharia law derived from the Koran.

Every adult woman is required to have a close male relative as her ‘guardian’, who is authorized to make a number of decisions on a woman’s behalf, including the right to travel, to start a business, and study at university. Saudi women are prohibited from driving, and are required to cover themselves in public, among other restrictions.

Last October, Saudi women embarked on unprecedented protest measure, by defying kingdom’s de facto ban on women driving by getting behind the steering wheel.

As part of the October 26th Women’s Driving Campaign, around 60 women got behind their vehicles, some brave enough have even posted their experience on YouTube.

The declaration on the website has been signed by over 11,000 women.

“Physiological science and functional medicine [found that driving] automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis,” Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al Luhaydan, judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, said in reaction to the issue.

He added that the women who drive give birth to children “with clinical disorders of varying degrees.”

Many Saudis have expressed their anger in Twitter, mocking the Sheikh’s “great scientific discoveries.”

Saudi Women Driver Campaign

An update regarding possible reforms for Saudi women who are extremely vulnerable to so called ‘honour violence’ etc..It seems they are not holding their breath. Universal suffrage, and Proportional Representation would seem to be a high priority of an alternative political agenda. Driving Licenses For All Not Just Petty Tyrants! Hope they are adopting the Mandela strategy of using their brains and not their blood in this campaign.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Women driving on Human Rights Commission Agenda.

The story is by P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR

On December 4, 2013 the English language daily the Arab News is reporting that the Saudi Human Rights Commission will be discussing issues related to the rights of women including the driving issue. A link to the story is here, and the text is below.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has instructed authorities to study some 72 proposals made by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) on various social issues, including the granting of citizenship to the children of Saudi women married to foreigners, said Ibrahim Al-Sheddi, a spokesman for the HRC.

“Our proposals have also covered the issue of male relatives exploiting their authority on women,” the spokesman said, while emphasizing women’s right to movement and transport to meet their daily requirements and to reach places of work, referring to women driving.

He said the proposals were made on the basis of more than 400 complaints received by the HRC during the past five years.

In its report presented to King Abdullah, the HRC pointed out that many women were being wronged by their husbands, fathers and brothers who wanted to control their freedoms and usurp their wealth.
Al-Sheddi said that the existing law for protection against violence covers prevention of harassment. He disclosed that a new law to prevent violence against children would be issued soon.

“I think this is a welcome move. Finally, a Saudi rights institution is acknowledging the difficulties, obstacles and discrimination women face in their life on a daily basis under the male guardianship system, which always puts them at a disadvantage and makes them vulnerable,” Maha Akeel, a senior Saudi journalist, told Arab News.

The fact that the HRC also addressed the issue of women driving is courageous considering the vicious campaign and vehement objections by members of society, she said.

“The issue of children’s citizenship is a major problem for many families,” Akeel said. “I hope the issues raised by the HRC are taken seriously by authorities in order to find quick and viable solutions.”

2 Saudi Women Detained for Driving in Ongoing Bid to End Ban

Saudi women drivers detained

The level of civil disobedience appears to have picked up if these women welcome being detained by Saudi police. October 26th was a day of defiance where ‘dozens’ drove in disobedience of bans against women driving. Since then protesters have requested anonymity due to fears of reprisals by the secret police.

By Mohammed Jamjoom,
CNN December 1, 2013
(CNN) — Two of Saudi Arabia’s best-known female advocates for lifting the ban on women driving were detained on Friday after being caught behind the wheel in the country’s capital.

Aziza Al-Yousef, who was driving the car, and her passenger, Eman Al-Nafjan, tell CNN they were pulled over and spent a few hours at a police station in Riyadh until being released into the custody of their respective husbands.

Al-Nafjan, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent bloggers, and one of the organizers of the popular October 26 Women’s Driving Campaign, said she decided to go for a spin with Al-Yousef to attract more attention to her cause.

“We were looking for the police. We drove by the police station on purpose,” she explained, adding how she welcomed the detention.

Despite repeated attempts, CNN has been unable to reach Riyadh police for comment.

Al-Nafjan, who tweets as “Saudiwoman,” says she has grown tired of waiting for the Saudi government to allow women to drive.

Al-Yousef has driven before and was glad to get behind the wheel again on Friday but says she was not deliberately looking to be detained by the police.

“In a way it is good for the cause because you’ll the keep the issue in the mind of people,” said Al-Yousef. “However, some people might understand wrongly that we’re confronting the government and that might slow the process.”

Why Saudi Arabia can’t ban women from driving forever

Al-Yousef was initially concerned she and Al-Nafjan might go to jail, citing the presence of traffic police, regular police and secret police who were called to the scene. She says the mood of the police had lightened substantially by the time she and Al-Nafjan reached the station.

When her husband came for her, he was asked to sign a statement pledging Al-Yousef would not drive again.

Al-Yousef says her husband jokingly asked, “How can I do that? I can’t prevent her from driving. Only God can do that,” before signing. She was then released.

The issue of women driving is a particularly sensitive and controversial one in Saudi Arabia, the last country on Earth where females don’t have that right. In recent years, though, more women have challenged the government, urging officials to overturn the ban and taking to streets in remarkable displays of civil disobedience. Although women are not allowed to drive in the ultraconservative Kingdom, there is, in fact, no law barring them from doing so. But religious edicts are often interpreted to enforce the prohibition.

“We have tried all the legal channels,” explained Al-Nafjan. “The government keeps promising us that all we have to do is be patient and quiet, and we’ll eventually get the right to drive. Officials keep saying the women driving issue is one for Saudi society to decide. We wanted to prove that really isn’t the case and that the only people who really stop us is the police.”

In May 2011, Manal Al-Sharif was jailed for more than a week after posting a video of herself driving in Saudi Arabia online. She quickly became a hero to many and inspired dozens of women to drive throughout the streets of various cities in June of that year.

More recently, in September, a website for the October 26 Women’s Driving Campaign launched, and within a few weeks, tens of thousands had signed an online petition calling for an end to the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia. As October 26 approached, numerous women filmed themselves driving in the conservative Kingdom and uploaded those clips to sites like YouTube.

Opinion: Give Saudi women the right to drive

In the weeks leading up to October 26, one Saudi cleric gave an interview in which he warned that Saudi women who drove risked damaging their ovaries. On October 24, the country’s Interior Ministry issued a statement telling women to stay off the streets.

Despite strong opposition by conservative quarters in the Kingdom, where a puritanical strain of Islam is practiced, October 26 saw dozens of women taking to the streets and driving. The campaign’s backers insist the movement is ongoing and has been a success thus far, while its critics say it has failed.

Last week, Al-Yousef had an audience with Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, via teleconference. She conveyed a message on behalf of the growing number of women and men calling for an end to the driving ban.

Al-Yousef was told the matter was now in the hands of Saudi King Abdullah, considered a cautious reformer.

“I think it might have been a good thing,” said Al-Yousef. “Before the government had said the driving issue was a societal issue. But now that is not an issue anymore. The good thing is now we know clearly that society is not the decision maker.”

Al-Yousef added: “We are trying to find a way to reach the King now. We have a letter signed by 3,000-plus people asking for permission to allow women to drive, and we want to find a way to get that letter to the King.”

Al-Nafjan, who was detained before for the very same offense, says she will continue pushing the envelope, even if that gets her into legal hot water.

“I wouldn’t mind if they prosecuted me,” she says. “I think it will further the cause. It’s good publicity for the cause — to be prosecuted for being a passenger in a car driven by a woman. You can’t get more medieval.”