Friday, September 01, 2006

EU Calls for Driving Ban on Saudi Men

Oh. My. Gosh. This is GREAT! Read it. Read it again!

I had coffee yesterday with a very dear friend here, a “local” woman [read: Saudi] and she was telling me that she got an e-mail at work that said that a few Members of the European Parliament had were sponsoring a campaign to BAN SAUDI MEN FROM DRIVING IN ALL EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES! She said she would share the e-mail with me but it was in Arabic, although she did print it out and gave it to her [American] husband and told him to get one of his [Saudi] co-workers to read it to him.

[Hey, I took that one Arabic reading/writing course – I’m almost an expert, now! And since the article is relatively short, I’m pretty sure that I would be able to translate it. Of course it would require every waking moment for the next three or four weeks…]

On a whim, I did a quick little
Google search and found the article – it’s been posted over and over and over so HOW is it that I’ve NEVER seen it?!? I’ve seen it now, and I’m ALL for this [you might have “clicked” above, but I just can’t resist] gem of Roger Helmer’s:

In a remarkable move today, four MEPs, including East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer and Anna Zaborska, Chairman of the European Parliament's influential Women's Committee, have launched a campaign to ban Saudi Arabian men from driving in all EU countries.

They have done so to highlight the continuing ban on Saudi women driving in their own country, which the MEPs claim is a blatant example of discrimination, an attack on women's rights, and totally at odds with civilised [sic] values. They argue that a move to ban male Saudi nationals from driving in the EU would help the Saudi authorities to understand the very strong condemnation evoked in Europe by the Saudi ban on women drivers.

The MEPs have sponsored a "Written Declaration" in the European parliament in Brussels, a motion which is available for all MEPs to sign, and which becomes a formal resolution of the parliament if at least half of all MEPs (316) sign up to it.

The sponsors of the Declaration are Anna Zaborska (Christian Democrat, Slovakia), Roger Helmer (Conservative, East Midlands); Ashley Mote (Independent, South East); and Jim Allister (Democratic Unionist, Northern Ireland).

Speaking at the launch of the declaration, Mr. Helmer said "The nationals of authoritarian countries assume that they can come to the West and enjoy our freedoms, while maintaining discrimination and denying basic human rights at home. This initiative should help to convince them that freedom is a two-way street and that their own people are also entitled to basic human rights".

What’s that old saying? Something like… “What goes around comes around.” Yeah, that’s it.


  1. What a splendid initiative!!! Let's all hope and pray it does indeed come to pass, you certainly remember the many references to this on our dear friend the R.P.'s blogspot to the terrible driving record of Saudi diplomats posted in the west, and in view of their awful treatment of the fair sex, this would certainly bite deep. Yeah!!!

  2. I work at the EP and it amazed me that the second this declaration was publicised objections from Saudi females rained in criticising us for meddlesome neo-colonialist prying into the affairs of another country. Will try and dig out the official statement signed by prominent Saudi women to that effect. Question: is it true that many Saudi women actively defend the more conservative interpretations of Islam than one might expect from reading blogs like saudi eve? I remember one post on the RP about a girl without her face covered who was lambasted in a mall by a concerned sister - whats that about - some kind of stockholm syndrome?

  3. Considerthis - See a post I'm going to put up on women, here. It will be put up tonight or tomorrow morning. I’ll probably call it something like, "Wet Dish Towels." It's rather amazing, that a country that has come so far so fast still lags so far behind the rest of the world.

    Contrary to what "Me" [see Briefs or Boxers post] said – and for the record this man needs to loosen the aghal on his gutra – I’ve met quite a few “local” women here and some have been very, very “liberal” and more than ready to shed the age-old-men-in-charge-of-domination-and-repression bestowed upon them. They would rip their abeyas, hijabs and veils off the second they weren’t required; and would be at the Mercedes dealership as soon as it opened tomorrow if women were allowed to drive.

    Then, too, I am in the Eastern Province and this part of the Country seems to be fairly progressive – not quite to the degree that Jeddah is. On the other hand, I have one friend who lives in Riyadh, and personally, from what she tells me, I’m afraid to go there. Apparently it is quite strict, and yes, the Muttawwa wouldn’t hesitate to “wrap you on the ankles” if you weren’t properly covered.

    I lived here for a year and a half before buying an abeya, and it was ONLY after be confronted in the Rashid Mall by the Muttawwa and a Police Officer that I got one. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I MUST wear an abeya, regardless of the fact I am a Westerner – and “supposedly” Westerner’s are just required to be dressed “respectfully” [i.e., no tank top and shorts out in public] but not required to wear the local garb – I was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt which was covered up, completely, by one of my husband’s blue work shirts – which comes down to my knees! I don’t leave our compound, now, without one. You never know if you [as a passenger in a vehicle, mind you] are going to be stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire – and it would behoove you to have an abeya on when the authorities show up to assist “the driver.”

    The “local” women on the compound where I live drive their cars here [we can drive within the confines of the walls, but good gracious, no – not outside the gates of our gilded cage] in complete head-to-toe black. Just think about it. Until women in this Country are NOT required to wear a hijab and/or veil – would YOU want women driving? I think not. You would have absolutely NO peripheral vision, and would be seeing the world wiz by you at 100 kilometers an hour through a teeny, tiny little black slit.

    Good grief, driving here is taking your life in your hands to begin with – and I’m a passenger – not a driver! I believe statistically there are more automobile accidents in this country, per capita, than any place else in the world. The men drive like absolute maniacs! No ONE – no ONE – follows the rules – the signs – etc. Those are meant for “someone else” but not “them.” And because the traffic police [if there is such an authority? they say there is, but…] don’t ever stop a “local” there are no consequences for not obeying the traffic laws. The last thing you’d want is someone driving covered in a hijab and/or veil.

    So the long answer to your short question…

    And, Stockholm Syndrome? I’m not so sure that’s what I’d call it. I guess you could call it that – provided you looked at ALL of the women as having been forced [not to say that some aren’t] to abide and obey the men in this Country out of fear of violence or threat – and thus, the submission is done as a defensive mechanism. I see it more as a domination and control issue – on the part of the men – who are unwilling to relinquish this hold due to their religious beliefs. And, because it is a learned behavior – in that it starts so very, very early in this culture – they don’t see it any other way and thus resolve themselves [the women] to being in the position of being dominated and controlled. That’s the way it’s always been – that’s the way it is now – that’s the way it will always be.

    So, for a woman to accost another for not covering – my perspective is that this is either 1) due to her upbringing, the covered woman believed the uncovered woman was bringing shame to ALL women, or 2) out of sheer envy and jealousy, the covered woman was just plain resentful of the uncovered woman. I’ve yet to see this happen – a woman accosting another because she is not properly covered, but I often wonder if the eyes staring at me through slits in veils are staring at me because I’m a Westerner and they hate me and want me to go home, or if they are staring at me because I’ve got blonde hair and they are envious that I don’t have to cover it up in a black hijab and veil…

  4. BT-I got some good info on Fran from her obituary. If you know where Yvette lived, or her family, you might find a obit. Try to locate relatives.

    Maybe the Europeans should force the Saudi men to where burqa stytle clothing as well.


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  6. Me,
    Ahem!... You a liberal!?! Maybe in your uptight medieval society's mindset you can pass as one...Or is it a way to boost your own ego by defining your narrow-minded self as such?.. But let me assure you that going by your 'demonstrated open-mindedness' as displayed in Sabra 's comments, you showed yourself a world class misanthrope and xenophobe.
    And save us the bragging about your English language readings, one thinks it unseemly on the part of anti-western Muslim reactionary.

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  8. Me,
    I am always willing to have a dialogue with anyone who is sincere. In your case, your coming on with a broad generalist statement so totally dismissive of Westerners, it is difficult to square the present offer of conversing with you after you showed clear disgust of us!?!
    And I am sorry to disappoint you in your poor estimation of my intellectual abilities; as it turns out, my husband and I have been the owners of a bookstore for nearly 20 years, and this John Perkins and his book are well known to me.
    That you did choose to read this book, and more than likely agree with what its contents say, speaks volumes about you! Perkins has been reviewed everywhere by all major papers on both sides of the pond, and the concensus, with which I concur, is that he is "just another frothing conspiracy theorist". Not my words these, but culled from the Washington post, a truly liberal paper.
    So, and with all due respect, may I urge you to rethink your positions if you are truly in this for 'dialogue' instead of disrespect of others and bragging about your wonderful self.


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