Archive | May, 2011

Drama – Part One

31 May

So Manal al Sharif, the girl who’s video I posted around ten days ago was arrested a few days after her posting that video. And released last night, nine days after her arrest. (may 21st-30th). In the meantime it seems the entire country has erupted into a chaotic endless, meaningless, fruitless debate between “the liberals” and “the islamists”. or so the “Islamists” would like it to seem.

I find that ridiculous. It’s not a religious issue, never was and never should have been. Plus there are plenty of religious Muslims who are pro-women driving. (Just check out the vid I’m posting below.) I don’t understand why “sheikh’s” opinions are brought into what is a purely social and legal matter. was her arrest legal? was her detainment legal? was what she did illegal? show us a law. The world of twitter, facebook, online forums , newspapers, youtube and TV channels have all been discussing this to no end. One brave woman had to pay the price for her initiative. Yet now the subject is on the front burner media0wise, with out a single “official” statement in sight to clarify anything. oh wait, there was one. Something from Prince Ahmed about a deceleration by the ministry of interior in 1990. But otherwise the people that matter have stayed very quite about this. I’, sure they’re observing very closely, but they’re refusing to take sides or make an official statement in any direction. Its almost like parents watching their kids fight and thinking “let them sort it out between themselves”.  I’m providing a few links below, but I apologize in advance to my non-Arabic speaking friends, most of these debates were in Arabic. Which i guess can be a good thing, because then at least we know more of the majority of Saudi Arabia is involved and not just those with a western education.

For English speakers, here is an article by Saudi Gazette aptly titled “driven to Despair” that I thought was to-the-point, and from a woman’s point of view!

One video that gave me goosebumps was a woman in Riyadh, Om Ibrahim, aged 25, who posted a video of herself driving in Riyadh, fully veiled, with her husband and children. What gave me goosebumps and cause me to laugh giddily with pride is what she wrote on that video :My name is Um Ibrahim AL Muqa6y, 25 years old, and I am a Bedouin in origin and roots and proud of it!”.  (This video has been removed from youtube by the user, but not before another channel re-posted it!) Her statement was a lovely reply to the claims that the only women who wanted to drive were “liberals”  and “not real Saudis” (whatever that is, as if if my origin weren’t Bedouin then I have no rights??!) who wanted our society to “fall into a cesspool of immorality” and weird stuff like that.They even went as far as personally attacking the women who’s names have been in the front lines of this struggle. attacking their reputation, their ethics, their morals, their way of life.

I find it highly immoral to try to demean and spread a smear campaign to ruin a woman’s reputation just because she has the courage to talk against what is wrong and demand something that is her human right.  I hope there is a legal way to go after those haters, because that is exactly what they are.

All that drama in the past few days has actually depressed me. Made me want to curl up in bed and hibernate till the world is a better place. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking. The ball is rolling, things will have to change sooner or later, but it seems like this right won’t be given without a fight with those haters, and without a few casualties on the way.

On a positive note, I was touched by the amount of  male thinkers, intellectuals, columnists and TV speakers who fully supported women’s right to drive. Its nice to see so many men, fathers, brothers and husbands who won’t bow down to social pressure and have lent their voices and pens in support of such a cause.

The video that gave me goosebumps:

In an interview with Al-Arabiyah, A famous religious scholar, Ayidh al-Qarny, stated his opinion: Banning women from driving is not based on any religious proof.

This vid is really cute (also in Arabic) but they guy tries to use reason and logic to talk to people who are anti-women driving. His hes a very positive and friendly attitude.

oops, it seems to have been removed by the user too! (wow, are we seeing a pattern here?) he did leave a comment on his channel though, giving his reasons for deleting it:

لقد مسحت الفيديو الأخير عن موضوع قيادة المرأة للسيارة نظرا لعدم تقبل فئة كثيرة من الناس له ولفهمهم الفيديو بطريقة خاطئة جدا, مع أنه من اللايك والديسلايك حق الفيديو يتبين أن 80 مؤيدين للفيديو, لكن أناس اخرين كثيرين سبب لهم الفيديو شوشرة وفهموه بطريقة خاطئة جدا وربطوه بكلام يقوله كثير من الناس لم أقوله أنا, وفي النهاية رأيت المصلحة هي في مسح الفيديو والله أعلم تجنبا لأي فتنة

اللي يسأل هل تراجعت عن رأيي ولا لأ, أنا طبعا لم أتراجع عن رأيي أبدا وما زلت مقتنع به, لكن من الأسباب التي مسحت الفيديو من أجلها هي قرائتي لكثير الناس الذين يسبون بعضهم البعض, وكله من أجل موضوع نقاش ثانوي وكثر الكلام فيه, فأحببت أن أترك النقاش في هذا الموضوع الخلافي والإجتهادي اللي في ناس كثيرة متعصبة لرأي معين ولن تقبل النقاش أبدا وتتهجم على كل من يخالف رأيها

In a short summary, Its seems that even though 80% of viewers liked it, the remaining 20% were a lot more aggressive and vocal about their dislike and accused him of causing “fitna” (Internal unrest between people). As you can see, he’s a very nice and timid guy, so I guess those accusations scared him. He doesn’t want to cause “fitna” and decided to stay away from the subject. Not that he changed his mind or anything, he’s sticking to his opinion, just doesn’t want to see people fighting under his vid. I sent him a message saying he should have just disabled comments and not let the haters get their way.

okay… let’s see what’s next on my list… OH! the “Ya Hala” show from rotana tv… they can’t delete that, can they? lol. No the Show host is a pretty tough guy, I can’t imagine it would be easy to intimidate him…This show is also in Arabic, and I’m posting the link to part1 of 4. (you can always follow the links to the rest of the parts). He covered the whole drama in detail, bringing in judges lawyers thinkers and whatnot to discuss the legalities of this whole thing.

… anyhow.. that’s all for now. I’m exhausted. Will updates you with a part 2, since drama is never only one episode!

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I think my driver is on a mission…

19 May

to Drive me crazy!

or give me a heart attack or high blood pressure or something. He does all these little things that I can’t quite reprimand him for or I’ll seem like a control freak but all put together they’re frustrating as hell! like slowing down to a full stop in the middle of a crowded street before turning right at what is slower than a roll. or cutting corners while turning left onto a two-way road so we’re smack in the face of oncoming cars. or just being obtuse! I feel bad, bad mouthing him. I truly do. He is but a pawn in this game. Maybe my road rage would be directed elsewhere if it were me behind the wheel. So I try to bury my head in my BB and type away at friends or something… until I look up to realize he’s lost the way to my Yoga instructor’s house yet AGAIN and is just driving around making random turns without saying anything to me.

I recently visited a friend in Kuwait. It’s amazing how similar our two countries are yet SO different! the people are quite religious there, as they are here. many, if not most, women still wear the abaya and veil, but they all drive! and have cinemas… It was such a relief just going out whenever we wanted to in her car, parking it (though it took us half an hour to find a spot once, still…. I didn’t mind that for some reason. it was like a hunting trip!” and just hanging out without worrying that anyone is waiting for us or how will we get home.

I sometimes thing women who have grown up in Saudi or lived here for extended periods of time must have some pretty advanced or at least different neurological pathways in their brain due to all the planning and juggling they need to do with the drivers and who will pick up who when and how. Maybe that would be an interesting research topic. 100 women from Saudi and 100 women from someplace else. see how our brains have adapted. ha! Yes you can use my idea, you’re welcome.

Rain starts with a drop…

18 May

So the winds of change seem to be blowing. I know I’ve been away for a while, had a lot going on and even more going on in my head. Plus the only posts I can write about my new drive would include expletives and I really don’t want to soil my dear blog with foul language. So I’m back again with positive news!

For those of you who keep a close eye on the Saudi women driving issue, you will probably already have heard of this. A new movement to start driving anyways. For those of us who have International licenses, there is a call to unite, stop being passive and take a positive step towards exercising our human right. Just go about our normal lives, only behind the wheel. In the end, no one will give you what’s yours if you can’t step up and take it.

This call to unite, spread via Facebook, youtube and twitter has gained international attention and was aired on CNN last night.

below is a link to the youtube page, including the CNN interview.

In these times Mana al-Shareef is not the only brave heroine that has risen, Najla al-Hariri is now my heroine. She decided she isn’t going to wait until june 17th, and will start going about her daily business driving herself and her children around- effective immediately!

Najla Hariri told the French News Agency  in a telephone interview that she had been driving for four days in the streets of Jeddah, without being stopped or arrested.

Najla said: ”I’m not afraid of being stopped because I’m a role model for my daughter and for my friends. I will be remembered by my generation and I’m prepared to give driving lessons to those who want to drive.”

Here are a few links that talk about her and her ground-breaking journey. As it is with anyone who is brave enough to challenge the norm, reactions to her vary between support and attack. Hats off to her! I wish I were that brave! Being slightly older, married and with kids awards you some freedoms that being under 30 and single doesn’t.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13431562

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/05/17/saudi-arabia-a-woman-challenges-the-law-by-driving-in-jeddah/

As to myself, I sadly won’t be in the country on June 17th, the day they are calling for all women in the country to just get up and start driving. But I do intend on starting as soon as I’m back inshallah. At least my dad will be back in town and he can bail me out if worse comes to worse 🙂

In the meantime, My prayers, thoughts and full support go out to all the women who will re-shape and define our future. Love you, Allah Ma3akum. (God be with you).

you can follow najla on twitter @hariri65  or follow the women to drive movement @women2drive and keep updated with their latest, I know I will!