Almost 3,500 people from all over the world called for the immediate release of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi mother arrested for daring to drive a car. After extensive pressure from activist groups and media outlets all over the world, the Saudi government had no choice but to give in, and today at 6pm Saudi time, Manal was released from prison!
While this is cause for celebration, we must also remember that Saudi Arabia remains the only country on earth where a woman can't drive or even ride a bicycle, and this is only one small step towards ending Saudi Arabia's 'gender apartheid.' That's why we have decided to take this to the next level, with a new campaign calling on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a public statement asking Saudi Arabia to give women the right to drive.
Given the recent arrests of women trying to drive, now is the time for the US to show its muscle... We believe that Secretary Clinton making a public statement of support for Saudi Arabia opening the country's roads to women would be a game changing moment.
Please sign and share the new petition as much as you can, and thanks again for taking action!
We the women of Saudi Arabia and our supporters all over the world express our deep concern over the arrest of Saudi citizen Manal al-Sharif on Saturday, May 22, 2011 for driving a car.
We call on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to immediately release Manal Al-Sharif as she was accompanied by her brother and had his consent to drive, recognized in accordance with the Saudi traffic system and contained in Article II, paragraph 34, of Saudi traffic laws.
Senior Saudi Islamic scholars have reported that there is no religious reason to prevent women from driving and a ban on women driving cars is not even found in the text of any Saudi legal statute, yet the reality is that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. This means Saudi Arabia is not in compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimation Against Women which it signed in 2000, and thus must withdraw it’s membership.
King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, declared in 2007 that the issue of women driving cars is a social issue, not a religious matter, and therefore subject to the rule of the state, which means that in theory if the community wanted to lift the ban on women driving there would be no obstacle.
We believe that the time has come to clearly resolve the issue of women driving cars. It is unjust to say it is a social issue and that Islam does not prevent ladies from driving, while simultaneously arresting a woman driving her car. Saudi Arabia is in need of a clear system, either to prevent women from driving, or, in case female driving is allowed, a clear indication that ladies are permitted to drive cars in Saudi Arabia.
We all hope for the urgent release of Manal.
God bless you.