This is a cross post from Howie’s Corner
There are times when I read something and frankly, words fail me. The following report from Reuters is one of those stories:
A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.
A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on October 26 has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from some prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked inside the kingdom.
In an interview published on Friday on the website sabq.org, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions”.
Reuters earlier wrongly identified him as Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Lohaidan, a member of the Senior Council of Scholars, one of the top religious bodies in the birthplace of Islam.
By contrast, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, the person quoted in the sabq.org report, is a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists.
His comments reflect the extent of opposition to women driving among some conservatives in Saudi Arabia.
“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq.
“That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees,” he said.
He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.
I cannot make my mind up whether this man is just a simple idiot or is just a plain liar. Perhaps both. Who can tell with these medieval backwards men.
You can read about one Saudi woman’ s experience:
After I was inspired by Manal Al Shirf campaign I asked my brother to teach me how to drive. Back then I was living in Riyadh city. Our teaching sessions have always started on Friday or Thursday mornings that’s when the streets are less busy. After making a good progress my brother started letting me drive to my hometown, the Eastern province, which is about 450 kms away. After we pass the check points we would swap the seats and I would sit behind the wheels and drive. I traveled to China but I came back to Saudi to visit my family 5 weeks ago and I wanted to continue learning.
Read the rest here
The October 26th driving campaign has produced the following petition calling for women’s right to drive.
1- Since there is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so, we urge the state to provide appropriate means for women seeking the issuance of permits and licenses to apply and obtain them.
2- Many claim that this is a “societal decision”. However the public discourse will not be resolved except through a firm governmental decision to implement what was proposed in point one. Here it is important to point out that women will not be forced to drive if they do not wish to do so.
3- Deferring an issue such as this until a “societal consensus”, has only increased divisions because it constitutes that some will be forced to concede. We as a Saudi people are diverse and accepting of all views that are not prohibited in the Quran or by the Prophet.
4- In case the Saudi government maintains the ban on women driving, we demand that it presents to the citizens a valid and legal justification and not simply to defer it to a societal consensus.
5- In case the government refuses to lift the ban on women driving and refuses to provide the people with a legal and valid justification, we demand that it provides “society” with a legal mechanism through which it can express what it wants.
Their website is currently blocked in Saudi Arabia.
Bunch of frightened old men if you ask me!