Posts Tagged “saudis”

In this Saturday, March 29, 2014 file photo, Aziza Yousef drives a car on a highway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving. Saudi Arabia says it will allow women to drive for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom. The kingdom, which announced the change on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, was the only the country in the world to bar women from driving and for years had garnered negative publicity internationally for detaining women who defied the ban. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)I’ve blogged many times about Saudi Arabia’s obvious misogyny. Among the ways Saudis repress their women is by making it illegal for them to drive. The Kingdom is the only country on earth that has such a restriction.

It’s a ridiculous restriction that Saudi clerics claim is required by Islam, but no other Islamic country has anything like it, which suggests this probably isn’t the case. They say it’s about “respect” for women (?). One of those clerics, a rather high-ranking one, even claimed that driving was physically harmful for women. That, of course, is a fucking lie … but he said it, and I’ll bet a lot of Saudis believe it.

Well, times are changing, even in the incredibly-reactionary Kingdom. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, the Saudi prohibition on women driving, will soon be lifted (Archive.Is cached article):

Saudi Arabia’s surprise decision to grant women the right to drive in the conservative kingdom marks a significant expansion in women’s rights, but activists said Wednesday it is also only the first step in a long list of demands for equality.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to ban women from driving, and nearly three decades ago women first began agitating for the right to drive, at times facing arrest for their protests and for getting behind the wheel.

The lifting of the ban, which comes into effect next summer, is the most dramatic step yet in a campaign by the king’s son, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to modernize the kingdom. The young royal has been promoting change as needed to boost the country’s economy and ease international criticism, but he risks a backlash from powerful clerics from the ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

It’s all well and good, I guess, that the monarchy is behind this rule-change, but it’s far from immediate, and it’s sure to be resisted, as the article mentions:

Almost immediately after the news broke, an Arabic hashtag on Twitter was trending that said: “The women of my house won’t drive.”

I can only hope things will continue improving for Saudi women.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Hasan Jamali.

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Minirock (Lack) Photo Model 1We all know that many Muslims don’t think much of women. In Saudi Arabia, they ramp their contempt for women up to another level, for instance by making it against the law for them to drive. A high-ranking Saudi jurist even lied about this, claiming — laughably — this is because driving harms women. But they also don’t think too much of men, either. I say that because one of the (many) burdens imposed on Saudi women is that they must wear elaborate clothing, intended to rob them of anything resembling a feminine shape, because Saudis don’t think men can handle seeing a woman who’s obviously a woman. They think men have no self-control, or something. I guess.

Recently, one Saudi woman tested her country’s misogynistic legal system, as CNN reports, and will very likely pay a high price for it (WebCite cached version):

Police in Saudi Arabia have detained a woman who featured in a social media video wearing a miniskirt and a crop-top as she strolled through a Saudi city, according to a Saudi police statement.

The woman, who has been questioned by Riyadh police, told them that “the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” according to the statement. The statement adds that the woman’s case has been referred to the general prosecution department in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

On Sunday, the spokesperson for the Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — also known as the religious police — said the group was monitoring the issue and taking the “necessary steps” to address a viral video depicting a “girl in offensive clothing.”

Here’s the video of that “girl in offensive clothing”:

It’s long past time for Muslims, especially those in Saudi Arabia, to grow the fuck up already, get over their ridiculous hangups about the female body, and act like grown adults who’re capable of controlling themselves around women who actually look like women. It very literally cannot hurt people to see women as women. Fear of the female form is irrational and childish.

By the way, the official name for Saudi Arabia’s religious police, “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” is precious … don’t you think? Almost straight out of 1984, no?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Saudi Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaydan said driving 'could have a reverse physiological impact' on women. (Al Arabiya)Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive. Even other Islamic countries, which repress women remorselessly, don’t have this sort of prohibition. Because this policy is unique, it gets a lot of attention. Recently, as al-Arabiya reported, a Saudi judicial official declared the ban is necessary because — get this! — driving injures women (WebCite cached article):

Saudi women seeking to challenge a de facto ban on driving should realize that this could affect their ovaries and pelvises, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Luhaydan, a judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, told Saudi news website sabq.org.

Driving “could have a reverse physiological impact. Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees,” Sheikh al-Luhaydan said.

Yes, you read that right. This moron seriously thinks that driving injures women! (Yes, even though riding in a car with a man driving doesn’t harm them. I guess. Somehow. I have no idea how that works, but what could a cold-hearted cynical godless agnostic heathen like myself possibly know about such things?)

I haven’t been able to locate these studies cited by al-Luhaydan, nor could anyone else (that I know of, yet). There are no medical findings — again, that I could discover — which demonstrate that any child’s disorder was definitively attributed to his/her mother driving. He offered no documentation or support of any kind for what he said. I can only conclude, therefore, that he fabricated this “scientific” claim, and is therefore a liar.

While al-Arabiya characterizes al-Luhaydan as merely “a judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association,” that diminishes his authority and significance. The truth is that he’s much more powerful and influential than just being a “consultant.” He is, first of all, an Islamic cleric by profession, and in Saudi Arabia, that matters a great deal, all by itself. Moreover, he also is a member of the Ulema Commission (cached), and had been head of Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council. So he’s not merely a “consultant”: He is, in truth, an influential part of the Saudi judiciary. So, as much as some would like us to think so, it’s not possible just to dismiss this statement as being merely one man’s idiotic opinion. Al-Luhaydan carries weight in the Saudi government.

In any event, this misogynist cretin’s lie forces me to create a new “lying liars for al-Lah” club, and make him its inaugural member. I’m sure he’ll be joined by others of his ilk, who will approve of his vile hatred, howling barbarism, and outright lies.

Any Religious Rightists out there, especially of the Neocrusading sort, who read this and snicker at this kind of medieval thinking on the part of a Muslim scholar, don’t pat yourselves on your backs for being more advanced than he is. People from your own ranks have been known to lie about female physiology in order to promote their own militant religiofascism. Among them are Congressman and Senate candidate Todd Akin, Congressman Joe Walsh, and Congressman Trent Franks, among many others, including supporters who insisted — in spite of the facts — that they were correct. This is no time for you to get on your high horses over a Muslim cleric’s ignorance and lies. There are way too many ignoramuses and liars among your own kind, for you to get away with that!

Photo credit: Al-Arabiya English.

Hat tip: Richard Dawkins, via Twitter.

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Today's issue of the Swedish daily Metro shows images from Swedish and Saudi Arabian IKEA catalogs for next year in which women have been deleted from identical photos. (Photo: Henrik Montgomery, AP, via USA Today)Pity the poor Saudis. The homeland of the prophet Mohammad is populated by (mostly Wahhabist) Muslims who — for some reason that my all-too-rational-mind will never comprehend — can’t handle the fact that women exist. In order to avoid knowing they’re around, they force them to shroud themselves in burqas, and limit their ability to get around (such as preventing them from driving, leaving home without a male, etc.). The desire never to see a woman … ever … leads to all sorts of ridiculous outcomes. One of these, as the Wall Street Journal reports, is the intentional removal of women from photos used in the IKEA catalog there (WebCite cached article):

Representatives for Swedish furniture giant IKEA on Monday said the company regrets removing women from some of the photos in catalogs shipped to Saudi Arabia. The move sparked criticism from government officials in Sweden and raised questions about whether some IKEA franchises can violate values that most company stores abide by. …

A comparison of the Saudi catalog to a standard version of the catalog showed that several women photographed in the standard version are missing from pages of the Saudi version. Otherwise, the photos throughout the catalog appear to be virtually identical.

The discrepancy was first reported by Metro, a free newspaper in Stockholm. A spokeswoman for the IKEA Group—which handles the catalog for the furniture company—said the move is in conflict with company values and IKEA is reviewing its procedures as a result.

Here’s a sample of the difference between the original artwork and its Saudi rendition:

A woman photographed in the standard version of the IKEA catalog, left, is missing from pages of the Saudi version, right / IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

A woman photographed in the standard version of the IKEA catalog, left, is missing from pages of the Saudi version, right / IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

IKEA’s corporate response was — as one might expect — to express some regrets:

“As a producer of the catalog, we regret the current situation,” Ylva Magnusson, spokeswoman for IKEA Group, which runs 298 of 337 IKEA stores world-wide, said. “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”

This response clearly implies they were taken by surprise. And perhaps they were. But while IKEA Group has stated that IKEA stores in Saudi Arabia are run by a franchise, not directly by them, they did produce the catalog for the franchisee … so they really ought not be acting as though they’re caught up in something that’s out of their control. They had control of it … full control. They produced the catalog. They could have refused to cave into rigid Saudi misogyny … but they chose not to.

I can’t help but be reminded that the very same thing having happened in conservative Jewish newspapers from time to time. The idea that God doesn’t want women ever to be seen is not, therefore, a particular problem for Saudis, for Wahhabism, or even Islam. Other religions also seem to have a beef with the fact that women exist. I really don’t get why … I guess it must go over the head of this cynical, godless agnostic heathen. Even so, forcing some one-half of one’s own society to neither be seen nor heard, sure sounds like a fucking ridiculous idea to me. And the fact that someone at IKEA, in a very modern and civilized country like Sweden, would want to go along with this religionistic absurdity, is nearly as incomprehensible and ridiculous.

Photo credit, top: Henrik Montgomery / AP, via USA Today; middle: IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

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Young Saudi Arabian woman in Abha, by Walter CallensIt seems I leaped to conclusions about Saudi Arabia entering the 21st century. That country remains mired in medieval thinking, as exemplified in this ABC News report about a Saudi woman who was beheaded for having engaged in “witchcraft” and “sorcery” (WebCite cached article):

A Saudi woman was beheaded after being convicted of practicing “witchcraft and sorcery,” according to the Saudi Interior Ministry, at least the second such execution for sorcery this year.

The woman, Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, was executed in the northern Saudi province of al-Jawf on Monday.

The “evidence” against her?

A source close to the Saudi religious police told Arab newspaper al Hayat that authorities who searched Nassar’s home found a book about witchcraft, 35 veils and glass bottles full of “an unknown liquid used for sorcery” among her possessions. According to reports, authorities said Nassar claimed to be a healer and would sell a veil and three bottles for 1500 riyals, or about $400.

This execution received a stamp of approval from the entire Saudi court system:

According to the ministry, Nassar’s death sentence was upheld by an appeals court and the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council.

Are we quite clear, now, on how barbaric it is to kill people over mere metaphysics?

Note: Any Christians out there who are thinking how superior their religion is to Islam, in this regard, had best be careful: I’ve already blogged about Christians in Africa who’ve gone after supposed “witches.” Christians would do well to keep in mind how much harm their own religion has inflicted on people in the name of eliminating witchcraft. Christianity certainly does not have clean hands in this matter — even now.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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