Saudi Arabia: Sex-segregated sidewalks and women’s car driving

One more brain fart by Saudi Mutaween:

Saudi Arabian religious police call for sex-segregated sidewalks’s religious police are insisting that authorities of Medina, one of ’s holiest cities, should build separate sidewalks for women, the Kuwaiti Al-Qabas newspaper said Friday.

saudi_women_sidewalkThe country’s Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), tasked with enforcing Sharia law, believes men and women should not be allowed to mix on the streets of the Islam’s second holiest place, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried.

The clerical police, or Mutaween, are authorized to arrest unrelated men and women caught socializing, anyone suspected of being homosexual or a prostitute, and to enforce Islamic dress codes.

The Mutaween enforce Islamic female dress codes, ordering women to wear headscarves and abayas, long black dresses covering the whole body except for face, hands and feet. Women are not allowed to leave their houses without their husbands or immediate male relatives.

Saudi women are also not allowed to ride a bicycle or drive a car, because if the vehicle breaks down, a woman might have to talk to an unknown male.

The police widely apply corporal punishment, including flogging, to punish suspected offenders.

One of the most widely criticized incidents, involving women rights abuse, occurred on March 11, 2002, when schoolgirls were prevented from escaping a burning school in Mecca, because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas. Fifteen girls died and 50 were injured as a result.

I’m just wondering when will these heavenly angles called “Mutaween” will disappear?!

Did prophet Mohammed ordered to have two sidewalks; one for men, another for women? It’s ironic to think of having a ‘women sidewalks’… I mean, how will they mark them? Paint them in pink? Maybe black to match black abayas and hope that women walking there will become invisible. For God sake, someone with courage should stop this stupidity and send these Mutaween to some true Islamic pre-school and teach them true/basic Islam rules.

On the other hand, for few weeks now, a group of Saudi women are back in the news with their everlasting “Car Driving” rights. A Saudi writer and activist described it well when she said: “Cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than Arab women,” but to be more accurate she should have said “Cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than SAUDI ARABIA women,” for I belive that women in the Arab world, but Saudi, enjoys most of their rights -and sometimes better rights- than many in the ‘developed world’. This lady (or group of ladies) is more interested in driving a car than having the right to breath clean air and live normally. But for them it is “something is better than nothing”:

Saudi Women Petitioning Govt for Driving Rights – “We demand that the right of women to drive is given back to us,” says the petition. “It’s a right that was enjoyed by our mothers and grandmothers in complete freedom to (utilize) the means of transportation in those times.”

The issue has been a matter of heated debate for many years. In 1990 a group of middle class women were arrested when they staged driving protests. The ban comes from a strict interpretation of the woman’s need to be with a legal guardian (a mahram) in public. While this is claimed to be another “Islamic” taboo, but the fact it is not:

“Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said previously that it is not a political issue, it is a social one, and that the government does not object (to women driving).”

…which I believe is true. It is not about politics or , but a social matter. Therefore, I personally believe that “Saudi Women Rights Movement” (whoever that be) lacks strategic planning to win back women rights in Saudi. Driving a car is one of the rights, however is not the most critical but for these women who can afford to have a car. What about the “right to live normally”? C’mon, you can’t even walk freely in the street… Ladies, you have a hell of a job to educate your society to accept you as an “equal” human being. While I agree that you should have the right to drive a car, however, I believe that will bring you more trouble than you wish and will halt any further improvement in winning more rights. What about the new “women sidewalks” that you have to march on? What about education, marriage, traveling, shopping, work, etc…