Viewpoint: Saudi women should not drive

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Driving remains a banned activity for Saudi women, who will soon be allowed to vote

Saudi leader King Abdullah overturned a court decision this week that sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for driving a car in violation of the ban on female drivers in the kingdom. Over recent months scores of women have driven around major Saudi Arabian cities in a highly unusual show of civil disobedience.

The vast majority of women do not drive in the kingdom and there remains much opposition to female drivers. A 25-year-old Saudi man, Nawwaf, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme why he does not want to see women driving in Saudi Arabia.

"I think women driving is the key to a lot of things. In Western countries, 100 years ago women's clothes were different but now you can see they are a little bit naked.

"If you start now to let women drive, let them go wherever they want, let them do whatever they want, we will be in the same position some day. Then Saudi Arabia will be like New York.

"It's not good for some girl to show her body, wear very short skirts. This is not about Saudi Arabia, it's about Islam. We've got a generation who were raised watching Gossip Girls and other [similar] series. They only want to be like that, dress like that, drive like that. It's not about need.

"Now it's driving [women want]. After five years it will be taking off the abaya [all-covering veil and gown], after 10 years they will ask to be allowed to wear short skirts. This is how it's going, that is how I feel.

"I did agree with the sentence [of 10 lashes]. There are hundreds and thousands of guys and they get the same or more if they do bad things, so I'm OK with it. If I am in the mall and I bother some girl, I will get more than [10 lashes] from the court.

"It is a good thing that women will be allowed to vote. Because they will vote for someone to improve healthcare, improve education, improve jobs.

"It's not only about driving. Healthcare is important, education is important, jobs are important. But driving is nothing.

"They [the female driving campaigners] want the people outside Saudi Arabia to think the fight is between the people and the religious people. It's not. I'm not a religious person but I am against it.

"I believe it will hurt our community. I understand the US traditions and I respect them so other people, outsiders, need to understand our traditions and respect them."

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