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Stories from and

Second Shia Mosque Attacked by ISIS in Saudi Arabia

On Global Voices Checkdesk, a collaboration project between Meedan Checkdesk, an online news verification tool, and Global Voices Online, Joey Ayoub charts the initial reactions on the bombing of a second Shia mosque in Dammam, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, for the second Friday in a row.

Three people were killed in the suicide bombing, which the ISIS Saudi branch Walayat Najd, has claimed responsibility for, and some 10 people have been injured.

On May 22, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a busy mosque in Al Qadih, in Qatif, killing at least 21 people, including a child, and injuring 120, in the worst attack on Saudi Arabia in a decade.

In November, eight people were killed in Al Ahsa, also in the Eastern province, when gunmen attacked a Shia community centre, where a religious ceremony was taking place.

Parenting 101: How to Raise Children the Arab Way

Satirist Karl Sharro dishes out some parenting advice on Twitter to his 51K followers, on how to bring up children, after reading news today that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has announced a major cabinet reshuffle.

The Saudi king has appointed his nephew, Minister of Interior Mohammed bin Nayef, Crown Prince, and his son and Defense Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, has been made Deputy Crown Prince.

Sharro tweets:

He adds:

Sharro explains the importance of having parents hang their own pictures all over the house:

For more parenting advice, wait for Sharro's new parenting book:

Did I mention Sharro is a satirist?

Who Benefits from Trafficking Women from Madagascar to the Middle East?

Aaron Ross reports on his investigation in the heart of the ongoing human trafficking of young women from Madagascar to Middle Eastern countries:

For some enterprising businessmen, the collapse heralded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So-called placement agencies sprang up in Antananarivo and other cities across Madagascar, promising the good life in Middle Eastern “Eldorados,” where monthly salaries usually ran around $200. The agencies would pocket upward of $2,000 for each successful transaction [..] As Madagascar’s economy spiraled downward, the number of migrants grew anyway. Some headed clandestinely to Lebanon with the collusion of government officials. Of late, however, the most popular destinations have been Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Ross also details the consequences from of economic sanctions of the coup in his report. The topic was also discussed by national observers here.

Saudi Arabia Controls Babies Names

You are not allowed to name your newborn daughter Eman, or Sandy, or Yara. And if it is a boy, names like Abdelnasser, Amir or Abdulmoeen are a no go. But that's only in Saudi Arabia. On Twitter, Iyad El Baghdadi shares this list of baby names banned in the absolute monarchy:

And there is a photograph of an officially stamped list to go with this notice.

Human Rights Video: 2013 Year in Review

A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.

A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.

“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”

Saudi Airlines Still has Manual Levers for Plane Seats

Saudi Muna AbuSulayman complains about the use of manual levers in Saudi Airlines aircraft seats:

Saudi Women to Continue to Challenge Driving Ban

Now that the Saudi government's position on the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia is clear, activists intend to continue to challenge the ban and “focus their effort on changing the government’s position instead of spending time trying to convince observers that society is not against lifting the ban.”

On Riyadh Bureau, Ahmed Al Omran writes:

Probably the most interesting outcome of the campaign was the decision of the Ministry of Interior to take a clear position on the matter. After years of vague statements by Saudi officials who emphasized that driving is a social issue and laws in the country do not ban it, spokesman Mansour al-Turki was forced to explicitly announce that they do not allow women to drive.

He adds:

Several women have tried to send cables to King Abdullah about driving. However, that effort again appears to be hindered by the Ministry of Interior.

Saudi Arabia is the only country which prohibits women from driving.

Saudi Releases Writer Tariq Al Mubarak

Saudi writer Tariq Al Mubarak, detained for supporting women in their right to drive in the absolute monarchy, has been released.

Tamador Al Yami tweets:

“Driving is Dangerous for Saudi Women”

Women and Driving Don't Mix - in Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Blue Abaya

Women and Driving Don't Mix – in Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Blue Abaya

On Blue Abaya, Layal writes a satirical piece on Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving.

She notes:

A new road sign was designed to spread awareness and remind any forgetful females that driving was not allowed. Clerics tweeted about the adverse affects of women driving cars which no doubt would place her in a dangerous unlawful situation. She might have to interact closely with males, much like her driver. Women might also go out of control when given control of cars which causes the entire society to weaken.

She adds:

The result of the crackdown was that all in all 12 out of the alleged 67 female drivers were caught wheel-handed. The traffic department was satisfied with the successful capturing of women drivers.

And continues:

The females were taken to the police station where they had to sign a pledge stating they will “never, ever, ever drive again”. They were fined for the traffic violation “driving without a license” because there was no law stating that women were not allowed to drive.

Saudi Clerics Protest Women Driving

‘A group of more than 100 conservative Saudi clerics gathered Tuesday at the Royal Court in Riyadh to protest against what they called “the conspiracy of women driving.”’ writes Ahmed Al Omran at Riyadh Bureau.
Saudi women are planning to defy a ban on women driving in the absolute monarchy on October 26.

Did Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen's Ancient Marib Dam?

Unconfirmed reports say that Saudi coalition forces, which have been bombing Yemen for more than two months have targeted the Marib Dam, one of the engineering wonders of the ancient world.

On Twitter, Hussain Albukhaiti claims:

In a follow up tweet, Albukhaiti posts a photograph of ruins, of what he describes as the dam, which dates back to the 8th century BC and is considered the oldest known dam in the world:

The size of the destruction of Yemeni infrastructure and history is still unaccounted for. We are gathering information and leads here on the damage on Global Voices Checkdesk, a collaboration project between Meedan Checkdesk, an online news verification tool, and Global Voices Online.

Leave a comment here to contribute tips to this story or to join our team.

‘Western Women Don't Care If They Are Raped on the Roadside,’ Says Saudi Historian

A screenshot of Youtube video. Used under CC BY 2.0

A screenshot of a video on YouTube showing Saudi historian Dr Saleh Al-Saadoon making his infamous claim

Saudi historian Dr Saleh Al-Saadoon says women in the West drive because they “don't care if they get raped on the roadside.” He made the remarks in an interview with Rotana Khalijia, a Saudi-owned television channel aimed at Gulf countries, in his defense of a Saudi prohibition that bans women from driving. The video, which created an outcry online, was shared far and wide on YouTube. 

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving cars. There have been many efforts to break the ban, most recently on October 26, 2013, when dozens of women shared videos driving cars in the day they plan on defying the ban.

The Saudi “historian” notes that:

Unlike riding a camel, driving a car places a woman in danger of being raped, which for Saudi women is a much worse experience than for any women in the western world where women “don't care” if they are raped.

To make his interview worse, he suggested a solution to import “foreign female drivers” to drive Saudi women to prevent a potential rape by contracted male drivers.

Saudi Arabia: 2014 A Promising Year for Women

Saudi Arabian blogger Hala Al-Dosari shares on her blog an interesting piece from an annual publication by the Wislon’s Center on women in the MENA Region. The publication suggests that 2014 might be a potentially promising year for women status in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan, Stay Out of Syria's Civil War

A day after a tiny news items titled, “Saudi Arabia ‘seeking Pakistani arms for Syrian rebels” appeared in Pakistani newspapers, political blogger Ahsan Butt posts a provocative piece warning Pakistan's foreign policymakers against tiptoeing into Syria's affairs.

In “This is not our war (Syria Edition)” on the Five Rupees Blog, Ahsan writes:

What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis Syria is one of the dumbest things Pakistan has done in a long time, and that’s really saying something. The Syrian civil war, tragic as it is, has nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan has no interests in that conflict. None.

Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide Pakistan-made anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets. Ahsan warns:

Is it wise and advisable to wade into a sectarian civil war two thousand miles away?[…]

Just examine the trajectory of sectarian violence over the last decade.

He explains that any interference in Syria will force the Pakistani state to pay attention to rising sectarian violence in the country:

What are the possible ramifications for such a policy on sectarian violence in Pakistan? Is it likely to exacerbate and make more deadly sectarian cleavages or the opposite?

Ahsan lists four more provocative questions which you can read here.

Lebanese Blogger Spoofs Study on Middle Eastern Women's Clothing

The question “How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public” posed by the University of Michigan is attracting hilarious spoofs online. The content is so rich that an additional post to our first one was necessary.

When Washington Post Max Fisher shared the original image on Twitter, he wasn't expecting this response by WSJ blogger Tom Gara:

But the spoof that got the most attention was undoubtedly Karl Sharro's of KarlreMarks:

Interviewed on PRI, he explained his motivation:

“It's almost like putting Muslim women on a scale from 1 to 6, from being fully covered to not being covered at all, which I think is pretty absurd.”

Saudi Women Insist on Driving Despite Ban

Saudi women continue to challenge the driving ban imposed on them in the absolute monarchy.

This video shows a woman named as Azza Al Shammasi driving in Saudi Arabia on November 9.

21km of Jeddah's 655km coastline accessible to public

Do you live near the sea but feel it's unreachable? That is the case for people living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Ahmed Al Omran tweets:

Abuse of Workers and Our Daughter From Nepal

Indian blogger Kiran Kumar Karlapu tells a real life story of the plights of a Nepali girl, who was pushed back by her employer from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She was left stranded in Mumbai airport with not enough money to buy ticket to go back to home and some fellow passengers helped her secure a ticket.

VIDEO: “No Woman, No Drive” Stuns Saudi Arabia

Today, October 26, was the day Saudi activists chose to protest against the driving ban on women in the Kingdom. As social networks were buzzing under increasing number of reports of women driving across the country, a brilliant a capella remake of Bob Marley's “No Woman, No Cry” spread at the speed of light, in a sound support of brave women challenging conservative sexist legislation and pseudo-scientific justification of them being prohibited to enjoy freedom of movement:

Saudi Women Driving – “A Western Demand”

Saudi blogger Ahmed Al Omran shares this tweet by a female member of the Saudi ruling family, ridiculing the call to lift the ban on women driving:

Princess Basmah Bint Saud tweets [ar]:

They have limited all the demands of the people in the nonsense of the West's demand: Women driving

Saudi women are planning to drive cars and defy a ban on women driving on October 26.

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