Saudi Arabia: Woman Arrested for Driving

A week ago, a Saudi mother drove her car in Jeddah to take her kids to their school. On May 22, 2011, another Saudi woman, Manal Al-Sharif, drove her car with the famous Saudi women rights activist Wajeeha Al-Huwaider sat beside her and her brother and son in the back seats. The day before, Al-Sharif had posted a video of herself driving on YouTube.

Manal Al-Sharif was arrested, then released on bail, but later on the police arrested her from her house at midnight once again.

Twitter has been awash with netizens writing about this new heroine, whom some have described as another Rosa Parks (a famous activist of the African American civil rights movement).

Picture of Manal Al-Sharif taken from her Twitter account.

Picture of Manal Al-Sharif taken from her Twitter account.

Saudi blogger Ahmed Al-Omran (@ahmed) wrote:

@ahmed: Is this the moment? Rosa Parks : 1955 :: Manal al-Sharif : 2011 #saudi #women2drive

Saudi tweep Omar Johani (@omar9944) wrote a tweet last night commenting on what Al-Sharif had done:

@omar9944: An unsung hero in Manal's saga, her bro! Accompanied her when she drove, had his wife babysit Manal's son. Saudi guys #TakeNote#FreeManal

Famous Egyptian columnist and activist Mona ElTahawy (@monaeltahawy) tweeted on the case of Manal last night, and she retweeted several opinions that stressed that the time for women empowerment has came to Saudi Arabia:

@monaeltahawy: #ManalAlSharif was arrested at 4 am without an arrest warrant. Her “crime”? Driving while female. #Saudi #Women2Drive #FreeManal

She has also criticized the enemies of women rights in Saudi Arabia saying:

@monaeltahawy: #Saudi royals & ultra-conservative clerics claim society “not ready” 4 women to drive. More like royals, clerics not ready 4 women's rights.

Fouz Abdullah (@FouzAbd), a young Saudi female tweep, wrote about Manal and women's legitimate right to drive through her Twitter account, warning [ar] the religious police of their war against women:

لا نحتاج الى وصي او رقيب لكي نحافظ على عفتنا وشرفنا. ارحلوا #haya'a

@FouzAbd: We do not need a guardian or someone to watch us out, in order to keep our purity and honor. LEAVE

Kuwaiti female tweep, Rana Al-Abdulrazaq (@ranati01) , also showed solidarity with Manal Al-Sharif saying [ar]:

ما قامت به منال الشريف اليوم هو شجاعة حقيقية .. امرأة تصارع ارثا مثقلا من الجهالة والموروث الذكوري المجحف

@Ranati01: What Manal Al-Sharif has done today was real courage.. A woman fighting a tradition of ignorance and masculinity.

Another Saudi woman, Nawwarah Ashad (@@nawwarah82), mocked the societal statement that claims Saudi women are “queens” so they should not be working or driving but kept and served at home:

@nawwarah82: how am i a #queen in saudi when a queen “rules” a country while i can't even vote on a municipal election & need a guardian to rule myself!

Egyptian tweep, Maha Hosny (@Maha114411), wrote about the importance of what Manal has done, before she was arrested again, saying:

منال خرجت من السجن بس دخلت التاريخ و هى فعلا تستحق الاحترام و لن يضيع حق وراءه مطالب ده ابسط الحقوق فى ايه؟؟ #manalalsharif

@Maha114411: Manal is out of jail but has entered history. She deserves respect. A right that is struggled for by such women, will not be lost. This is one of the simplest rights, why! #manalalsharif

Another Saudi tweep, Abdulaziz Al-Alami (@AzizAlAlami), commented on Manal's arrest:

@AzizAlAlami: Manal taken from her house in the Aramco camp in the middle of the night to the station. Right,thats how you treat a queen #Saudi #FreeManal

Another Saudi tweep, Heba Al-Butairi (@H_eba), who has been active online lately for the rights of Saudi women, wrote about Manal saying:

@H_eba: #FreeManal Took a turn from the oppressive to the INSANE! Dragging her out of of her house in the middle on the night? She's not a terrorist

Another Saudi female online activist, Khuloud Al-Fahad (@Khulouds) showed support for Manal Al-Sharif:

القبض على منال بهذه الطريقة هو لإرهابنا من الخروج للقيادة وتخويف أولياء أمورهن وبث الرعب في نفوسهم لكن ماقامت به منال خلق مليون منال

@Khulouds: The way Manal was arrested is their way to terrify us so we won't go out to drive and to scare our fathers, but what Manal has done created another million Manal

Saudi novelist Badriya Al-Bishir (@badryahalbeshr) also tweeted to show support for Manal and criticize her arrest:

من الذي خالف؟ منال خالفت القانون أم القانون خالف منال؟ وكيف يستوي قانونا لا يساوي بين المواطنات والمواطنين

@badryahalbeshr: Who broke the laws? Manal broke the laws or the Laws broke Manal? How could laws be justified if they do not apply equality between female and males citizens


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