Michael Bou-Nacklie/Michael Bou-NacklieA Saudi woman fastens her seat belt before driving in Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia. From the excellent article by Ahmed Al-Omran, "Saudi Woman Sentenced To Lashes After Defying Driving Ban".
A friend emailed a link to the article below pointing out that the persons charged were named in full, whereas usually Saudi criminals or alleged criminals are not named in Saudi print media--except for terrorists, in my experience. Others have observed that non-Saudis living in Saudi usually are named. I was struck that this public naming in full puts Saudi women who drive in a special category of persona non grata which overrides their nationality and non-terrorist activity--or is the idea of Saudi women driving that terrorizing to some?
Saudi woman sentenced to 10 lashes for driving".
Saudi woman driver vows to appeal flogging sentence
By RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | ARAB NEWS
Published: Sep 28, 2011 02:23 Updated: Sep 28, 2011 02:23
JEDDAH: A court in Jeddah on Tuesday sentenced a Saudi woman who flouted a driving ban to 10 lashes.
The driver, identified as Shayma Jastaniah, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah streets. Two other women are scheduled to appear in court later this year on similar charges.
Arab News contacted Shayma, who expressed her dismay at the sentence. “I am still in shock and I cannot think straight because of what I have had to go through. I will appeal the sentence.”
She told Arab News that she drove only once and it was before high-profile campaigner for women driving Manal Al-Sharif was caught. Shayma holds an international driving license.
Shayma's lawyer Adnan Al-Saleh told Arab News that his client was waiting for a fair and just decision on women driving.
He said women driving is not considered in any way a criminal charge in Saudi law or Islamic teachings.
“This is not an issue related to morals or custom nor is it a crime that requires punishment. The courts now consider any woman driving a car without a Saudi driving license to be committing a crime punishable by lashes. It means that any woman caught driving in the future will suffer the same punishment, and maybe even prison,” he said.
“In this situation, the woman driver has the right to appeal the case and submit her objections because this is an initial sentence. The case will then be transferred to the court of appeals.”
He said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah gave the green light to women to participate in the Shoura Council and vote and run for the municipal elections, yet the Saudi courts were punishing women for driving.
“How can she be allowed to lead a nation when she is not allowed to drive?” added Al-Saleh.
He said Shayma received two punishments. The first was a fine because she drove without a Saudi driving license. The second was lashes.
“Why was she given two punishments? On what basis, after she paid the fine, can you then whip her? Is it because she is a woman? What if she was a man? Why can’t men be transferred to court and get lashed? What is the problem with woman driving?” he questioned. “She did not smuggle drugs, and she did not cause an accident.”
Zaki Safar, founder of the “Saudi Men For Women Driving” campaign, said ultra conservative elements in society were not happy with the king's new directive giving women more political power.
He added that they have no qualms about being vociferous when voicing these sentiments.
Safar said it is otherwise difficult to explain the decision to try fellow woman driver Najla Hariri as well as the conviction of Shayma.
Hariri, who flouted a ban on women driving, is to stand trial after the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in Jeddah decided to prosecute her. She drove her car more than once to support the “Women2Drive” and “My Right2Dignity” campaigns and was detained for driving on Aug. 24. She was referred to a Jeddah court. The first hearing will be held next month.
Later, I remembered that women activists are also named in full, in Saudi print. Also perceived as that terrorizing by some?
Saudi Women Driving Garners Attention; Saudi Women's Education Brings Substantive Change--Including to Driving
On Women Driving, in the West and Saudi; Other Parameters of Women's Quality of Life; Hope for Change
Saudi Women June 17 Driving Guidelines (Women2Drive): If you are going to do it, drive safely!
Your comments, thoughts, impressions?
Saudi Woman Sentenced To Lashes For Driving". (AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE)