Saudi Arabia: Outrage Over 10 Lashes for Female Driver

Six months ago, Shaima Jastaniya drove her car in one of Jeddah's streets before getting arrested by the police. In September, Jastaniya was sentenced to 10 lashes for challenging the driving ban but a few days later, news spread that she received a pardon from the Saudi monarch himself.

When interrogated, she said she drove her car because she had no means of public or private transportation and needed to get to the hospital. Over the past 48 hours, Saudi tweeps confirmed that Jastaniya received the court's lashing order and has 30 days to appeal. Unlike other women who drove in Saudi Arabia, such as Manal Al-Sharif and Najlaa Hariri, Jastaniya did not video-tape herself when driving to post it online.

What came as a bigger surprise to Saudis was actually the leaked document that the court sent to Al-Watan newspaper summoning two female journalists to court for writing the news article on the lashing sentence Jastaniya received two months ago. The two female journalists are Nissrin Najm Al-Din and Samya Al-Essa and here is a link to the story they wrote about the lashing, where they refer to the first two letters of Jastaniya's name.

An illustration by Emirati Wafa Al Marzouqi in support of Saudi "Women to Drive" campaign. The caption reads: I have the right to drive.

On Twitter, Saudi Fahad (@Solidus_Fahad) was enraged by the news. He tweeted:

@Solidus_Fahad: If a woman can be whipped just for driving could you imagine what would happen to her for speaking her mind out loud?!

@Solidus_Fahad: Saudi woman with great progressive beliefs will be whipped in public in the name of religion and male supremacy! Because of driving!

From Jeddah, Noha Aldhahri (@MsNohaAldhahri) tweeted the news on the two female journalists called to court. She wrote:

@MsNohaAldhahri: #Saudi Ministry of Information suing two #reporters for covering #Shaima #lashing case.

Saudi Human Rights activist Waleed Abu Alkhair (@abualkhair) who was taken to court last September, posted the leaked document that called the two reporters to court:

@abualkhair: The document from #Saudi Ministry [of] Info Suing 2 Reporters 4 publishing #Shaima lashing case

From Riyadh, (@Anwaar33) criticized what she described as the corrupt system in Saudi Arabia [ar]:

في السعودية فقط تجلد فتاة لأنها ركبت مركبتها لقصد حاجتها بينما سارقوا المليارات لأمانة جده في قصورهم معززين
@Anwaar33: Only in Saudi Arabia that a girl gets lashed for driving her car for an emergency while those who stole billions from Jeddah are living in their palaces with respect.

A Saudi-American tweep nicknamed (@Ana3rabeya) referred to Princess Amira Al-Taweel, the wife of Prince Waleed Bin Talal, who tweeted two months ago saying that Shaima got her sentence dropped:

@Ana3rabeya: Fictional TruthSeeker: “Was there, or was there Not, Royal Pardon issued 4 #Shaima Lashing Sentence?”, Ameerah Al-Taweel: *Crickets*.

Blogger Majed Al-Enizi (@QMajed) criticized the laws in Saudi Arabia [ar]:

يحق للمواطن أن يقرأ دستوراً صريحا بلائحة المسموح والممنوع بدلاً من الإعتماد على الحظ في تحديد نوع العقوبة التي سيواجهها
@QMajed: A citizen has the right to read a direct constitution that has a list of what is allowed and what is prohibited instead of depending on luck for his punishment to be specified.

Hala Khalaf (@tbaish) too wanted to see a change. She wrote [ar]:

بعد صدور حكم الجلد على شيماء، أتسائل متى سيتم السماح لطلاب القانون بدخول السلك القضائي وعدم احتكاره على ذوي اللحى
@tbaish: After the lashing decision on Shaima, I wonder when will they allow law students to be judges instead of keeping it exclusive for the ‘bearded’.

Farah Al Ibrahim (@farah_alibrahim), a female Twitter user based in Dubai, UAE, wrote [ar]:

خلوها تضحي و تنجلد، يمكن جلدها يصحي فينا شي .. وما أبي أضيف أكثر أخاف انجلد انا بعد
@farah_alibrahim: Let her sacrifice and get lashed, maybe her lashes would wake us up.. I do not want to add more, as I fear to get lashed too!

Several Twitter users, mostly writing under pseudonyms, have cheered for this decision saying whoever crosses the law should be punished. Others used the opportunity to bash “liberals” and those seeking reforms in the Kingdom. This Twitter user used the discrimination card against women activists [ar]:

منال الشريف اصولها مو سعوديه وشيماء كذلك الدليل ابي اشوف واسمع بنت حموله واصل وجذور سعوديه تسوق؟ كان جلدها ابوها قبل الحكومة
@ro7_aleslam: Manal Al-Sharif is not of Saudi origins and so is Shaima. The proof is that none of those truly Saudi rooted women drove her car because her father would lash her before the government.

Abdullatif Mohammad (@AboLa6eef) was complaining of tweets in favour of Jastaniya, saying she deserved her punishment [ar]:

ي هوو ي عالم أزعجتونا بشيماء حقتكم ذي هي خالفت القانون ولازم تتعاقب بسكم هياط و كلام فاضي
@AboLa6eef: You guys are bothering me with this Shaima of yours. She broke the law and needs to be punished. Stop the nonsense.

He added:

عزيزتي البنت اذا تبغين تسوقين اطلعي برا السعوديه قسسسسم بالله مو ممنوع يعني عندك كل دول العالم هنا مافي سواقه أفهموا عااد
@AboLa6eef: Dear Girl, if you would like to drive, leave Saudi Arabia to where it is not banned, you have the whole world, but there is no driving here. Get it!


  • Joe

    “Saudi woman with great progressive beliefs will be whipped in public in the name of religion and male supremacy! Because of driving!”
    To Solidus_Fahad,
    Noone said anything here about Religion. Do Not twist the story!! Stay within the facts or stay out.
    This on a cultural thing in Saudi Arabia; Muslim women in every other Muslim country are driving their vehicles every day.
    So, behave yourselfe and don’t a jerk trying to smear the religion.

    • Nadia

      No one said it is about religion? How would you know? The opposition camp is against it based solely on a religious ruling (fatwa). I know because I am Saudi. Do not try to blame the culture to the outside world, while using religion on those inside.

  • Noura

    I am Saudi woman, I don’t prefer to drive my car.
    have you ever seen queen driving her car . She always has driver. Why they don,t like to live as a queen .

  • […] Driving Oct 2012 Saudi Arabia: Women2Drive Steps Up Tone; Blames Government Policies Nov 2011 Saudi Arabia: Outrage Over 10 Lashes for Female Driver Jun 2011 Saudi Arabia: Women Behind the Wheel May 2011 Saudi Arabia: Woman Arrested for Driving […]

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