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.