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memri
September 11, 2007 No.
1710

Saudi Feminist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar Launches New Campaign: Let Us Drive Cars

On September 4, 2007, the liberal Arab website Aafaq published a statement from the newly established League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, asking women to sign a message demanding that women be given the right to drive. The league plans to deliver the message to King 'Abdallah on Saudi Arabia's national holiday, September 23.

Among the founders of the League are women's rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar, and Fawzia Al-Uyyouni, the wife of imprisoned reformist 'Ali Al-Domaini.[1]

The following is the text of the appeal:[2]

"The [Right to Free Movement]... Was Enjoyed by Our Mothers And Grandmothers, in Complete Freedom, Through the Means of Transportation Available In Their Day"

"In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Beneficent: Al-salam 'alaykunna (peace be upon you women), and Allah's mercy and blessing.

"On the occasion of the second anniversary of the accession of the Keeper of the Two Holy Sites, King 'Abdallah Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, and with the national holiday approaching on September 23, we, the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, announce that we will be delivering a message to King 'Abdallah, may Allah preserve him, demanding that he return that which has been stolen from women: the right to [free] movement through the use of cars, [which are] the means of transportation today.

"This [right to free movement] is a right that was enjoyed by our mothers and grandmothers in complete freedom, through the means of transportation available in their day.

"Women interested in being among the signatories to the message should send this in writing as soon as possible, so that we can deliver the message on the national holiday…

"We Would Like to Remind Everyone That Rights Are Not Given or Earned – They Are Taken"

"We would like to remind everyone that rights are not given or earned; they are taken, through the various peaceful means available – [means] that have been recognized by all international conventions.

"Thank you for your cooperation and for your awareness of your rights,

"[Signed,] The League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia.

"Women interested in signing are requested to send the following information: name, profession, nationality, and city of residence, to [email protected]."

Endnotes:

[1] For more on Wajeha Al-Huwaidar, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 312, "Saudi Writer and Journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar Fights for Women's Rights," December 28, 2006, Saudi Writer and Journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider Fights for Women's Rights; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1479, "In a Satirical Poem, Saudi Author Laments Conditions in the Arab World," February 28, 2007, Arab Feminists on Women's Rights: Cats and Dogs in the Developed World Have More Rights than Women in the Arab and Muslim World.

On 'Ali Al-Domaini, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 294, "Debate on Reform in Saudi Arabia," September 21, 2006, Terror in America (21): Saudi Columnists Condemn Conspiracy Theories and Anti-U.S. Sentiment in the Arab World (endnote 5; name erroneously transcribed as "Al-Damini").

[2] www.aafaq.org, September 4, 2007. The last two years have seen a very lively debate in Saudi Arabia on the issue of women driving cars; the debate was sparked when, in May, 2005, two Shura Council members proposed that women be allowed to drive. A MEMRI report on the issue is forthcoming.