Badriya al-Bisher on women driving in light of the recent statement by Saudi Justice Minister:

It is truly a thorny issue because it is similar to the mystery of whether the egg or the chicken came first. How can you issue a violation permit against a citizen for not having a driver’s license when your institution does not allow the said individual to attain one in the first place and when your institution does not open a driving school for the person? What if a woman carries a Gulf or Arab or international driver’s license as per international agreements worked upon in Saudi? It is truly “of course” a thorny issue.


Double Standard?

Badriya Al-Bisher:

News about the release of some Al-Qaeda members and prisoners from Guantanamo including some women who were linked to Al-Qaeda such as the “Al-Qaeda lady”, were indicators of pardoning some of the citizens who had adopted the Al-Qaeda ideology. This pardoning came after the judicial committees, comprising of a number of prominent Muslim scholars who announced that they had succeeded in correcting the thought of some of the detainees and made them repentant. Some of the released prisoners left the country to rejoin Al-Qaeda but these were isolated cases.

What is surprising is that the judicial committees do not cater to citizens who are imprisoned for less serious cases. These detainees did not carry arms against the state or terror in their minds. These include the young columnist Hamza Kashgari who is in desperate condition according to the writer and journalist Abdulazi Al-Qasim who recently visited him in his prison. His mother’s heart has been bleeding while she pleads for his release and pardon. His crime was a tweet for which he apologized and declared repentance. Is it fair to keep Kashgari, a religious young man, behind bars for more than a year for a mistake for which he has already apologized?

Is it really surprising that the judiciary is dominated by religious conservatives who have more sympathy to al-Qaeda suspects than to liberal writers?

Saudi Women: From Shoura to Full Citizenship?

Badriya al-Bisher says appointing women to the Shoura Council is just the beginning:

The Consultative Council is the first step after which women will be able to demand the rest of their civil rights. I had said before that this decision to allow women into the Consultative Council should lift all other bans previously imposed on women and which stripped her of her civil rights like the right to guardianship, travel, driving, and equality. Very soon, we are expecting women to become ministers of social affairs or education or head any of the ministries through which women can start to occupy ministerial posts.

When Surveillance Replaces Ethical Conscience

Badriya al-Bisher on plans announced by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to hire women in their ranks:

Seems like the commission believes it is not enough for its staff to stand at university gates, stores, beauty salons, and photography studios because it is no longer enough to guard morals from the outside, especially as far as women are concerned, as if morals are exclusive to the commission. Here an overlap of powers might take place with certain entities giving up their authority to allow the commission to do its job properly. Do not be surprised when you see teams of commission women storming women-only wedding celebrations to check what the guests are wearing. The commission assumes that it is not enough for a woman to be monitored by her family and they need an external censor.

Women Tracking System is Slavery, Saudi Writer Says

Badriya al-Bisher on the women tracking system:

My advice to the Passport Directorate is to patent this invention because I am sure some companies will steal it and develop it into a more sophisticated technology that allows a husband to know every step his wife takes outside the house!

Do these procedures not remind you of the ones used to track down criminals who are under probation?

To put an adult woman under the constant control of her husband is proof that the wife is a slave. If the husband is good, she will live in peace.

If he is bad, she will face the destiny of a slave – she might be freed from slavery or live in torture. This explains why the woman stood next to the station helpless while officers could not do anything for her.