JIDDA — Roughly two years ago, Rowdha Yousef began to notice a disturbing trend: Saudi women like herself were beginning to organize campaigns for greater personal freedoms. Suddenly, there were women asking for the right to drive, to choose whether to wear a veil, and to take a job without a male relative’s permission, all using the Internet to collect signatures and organize meetings and all becoming, she felt, more voluble by the month.In fact, it is not in the least surprising. Had this scribbler even half a clue (which, clearly, she hasn't), she might have noticed that, around the world, it is Muslim women (and ex-Muslim women) who are in the forefront of the fight against sharia for the simple reason that they are dissatisfied with the built-in inequities of Islamic law. Sounds to me as though she'd prefer not to see this reality, and is siding with the male oppressors.
The final straw came last summer, when she read reports that a female activist in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, Wajeha al-Huwaider, had been to the border with Bahrain, demanding to cross using only her passport, without a male chaperon or a male guardian’s written permission.
Ms. Huwaider was not allowed to leave the country unaccompanied and, like other Saudi women campaigning for new rights, has failed — so far — to change any existing laws or customs.
But Ms. Yousef is still outraged, and since August has taken on activists at their own game. With 15 other women, she started a campaign, “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me.” Within two months, they had collected more than 5,400 signatures on a petition “rejecting the ignorant requests of those inciting liberty” and demanding “punishments for those who call for equality between men and women, mingling between men and women in mixed environments, and other unacceptable behaviors.”
Ms. Yousef’s fight against the would-be liberalizers symbolizes a larger tussle in Saudi society over women’s rights that has suddenly made the female factor a major issue for reformers and conservatives striving to shape Saudi Arabia’s future.
Public separation of the sexes is a strongly distinctive feature of Saudi Arabia, making it perhaps a logical area for fierce debate. Since women have such a limited role in Saudi public life, however, it is somewhat surprising that it is their rights that have become a matter of open contention in a society that keeps most debate hidden...
Monday, May 31, 2010
NYT Scribbler Perplexed by Women's Struggle
A dhimmi dhummy writing in New York Dhimes notices an "odd" phenomenon--Saudi women are demanding more "rights" than sharia allows them. What's so odd about that, you may well ask? Well, the scribbler doesn't understand why this of all issues would surface in the Magic Kingdom since women there have virtually no public life: