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It seems the United States has no problem with Saudi Arabian women being arrested for driving a car.

Come again?

On Thursday, June 30, State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner was grilled about the United States’ position on the arrest and detention of a number of Saudi women for driving during a State Department briefing.

But get this: the United States' representative to the outside world refused to condemn the arrests of women for simply driving a car!  

When a reporter asked “What do you make of the fact that the Saudi religious police are running around, plucking women out of cars?” the State Department spokesperson replied by framing the issue as “an internal matter for Saudi Arabia.”

When a reporter asked “Do you think that it’s a good thing that the Saudi religious police are taking women out of cars when they’re driving and arresting them?” the State Department spokesperson replied “This is an issue that Saudi Arabians are grappling with.”
 
Finally, when a reporter asked “You won’t come out and say that it’s a bad thing for the religious police to be detaining women who are driving?” the spokesperson replied. “I’ve given you the details as I know them.”

Does it make sense to anyone that the representatives of the United States to the outside world have nothing to say when asked if arresting women for driving is wrong?

This is an embarrassment to our country and an offense to women. It needs to be corrected immediately.

 

Letter to
Senior Advisor on Development, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Steve Radelet
Chief Speechwriter and Policy Advisor, Office of Policy Planning Josh Daniel
Deputy Director, State Department Office of Human Rights Cari Enav
and 25 others
International Officer, State Department Office of Human Rights Dara Duncan-Lira
Womens Affairs Officer, State Department Office of Human Rights Linda Lum
Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department Janet Ann Sanderson
Director, State Department Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs Andrew Steinfeld
Deputy Director, State Department Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs Linda Specht
Country Officer, State Department Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs Josh Harris
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philippe I. Reines
Deputy Director, Office of Press Relations Julie Reside
Press Officer, Department of State Andrew J Laine
Director, Office of Press Relations Mark Toner
Chief of Staff, Office of Policy Planning Janey Wright
Deputy Director, Office of Policy Planning Edward Lacey
Personal Assistant, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Claire Coleman
White House Liason, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Steven Diminuco
Deputy Secretary of State James Braidy Steinberg
Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Hoffman Posner
Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey T Feltman
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer
Near East Specialist and Senior Policy Advisor, State Department GWI Office Diane E. Kelly
Public Affairs Advisor, State Department GWI Office Nicole R Conn
Senior Advisor, State Department Office of Global Women's Issues Steven Steiner
Executive Assistant, State Department Office of Global Women's Issues Valerie Patricia Keitt
Director, Office of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter
Principal Deputy Director, Office of Policy Planning Derek Chollet
Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Cheryl Mills
I write to express my deep concern over statements made by State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner at a State Department briefing on Thursday, June 30, in which Mr Toner refused to condemn the detention of Saudi women for simply driving a car.

When a reporter asked “What do you make of the fact that the Saudi religious police are running around, plucking women out of cars?” the State Department spokesperson replied by framing the issue as “an internal matter for Saudi Arabia.”

When a reporter asked “Do you think that it’s a good thing that the Saudi religious police are taking women out of cars when they’re driving and arresting them?” the State Department spokesperson replied “This is an issue that Saudi Arabians are grappling with.”

Finally, when a reporter asked “You won’t come out and say that it’s a bad thing for the religious police to be detaining women who are driving?” the spokesperson replied. “I’ve given you the details as I know them.”

As an American, it makes very little sense to me that the representatives of the United States to the outside world have nothing to say when asked if arresting women for driving is wrong.

This is an embarrassment to our country and an offense to women. It needs to be corrected immediately.