Manal al-Sharif, the Saudi woman who was arrested early Sunday morning for defying her country’s ban on women driving and calling for a June 17th “mass drive” on Facebook, created. was supposed to be released from prison today. But authorities say that she will be held for ten more days, the Guardian reports. According to her lawyer, al-Sharif is being charged with driving “without a licence, provoking other women to do the same and provoking public opinion in Saudi Arabia”:
It is disputed by lawyers whether it is illegal for women to drive under national law but it is socially and religiously unacceptable in many quarters.
“The investigator needs another 10 days to complete his investigation,” said Al Sharif’s lawyer, Adnan Al Salah. “He will decide whether Manal is innocent and has to be released or he will refer her to the prosecution unit, a government organisation and they might refer her to a special prosecutor to deal with the case. I feel the fair and right thing would have been to release her on bail.”
Al-Sharif had also posted a video online of her driving and another video in which she described how women could participate in the June 17 protest.
The Saudi Women weblog has been updating al-Sharif’s situation:
Meanwhile the official stance is that Manal has confessed and repented. The story goes that Manal has broken down sobbingly and said that she was mislead and misinformed by a group of Saudi women, some of whom are in the USA to go ahead with the campaign and driving video. It’s also claimed that she requested that they be brought in for questioning too. Her support campaign and personal friends have denied all this and insist that Manal remains strong. Manal’s lawyer has not denied or confirmed either reports but he did make the following statement:
“My client reserves her right in not making any comment at the moment and will take legal steps against any information that goes against reporting ethics and professionalism. He added: What concerns me as a lawyer is to raise the humanitarian sense in dealing with the case until my client is able to return home.”
The Saudi Women weblog also says that the media response in Saudi Arabia has been “schizophrenic,” with some supporting the official position and others — perhaps as many as 60 columns in newspapers — calling for an end to the ban on women driving in support of al-Sharif. While ultra-conservatives describe al-Sharif as a “sinful, conspiring and malicious hypocrite” and her supporters as “evil, infidels, and licentious, conspiring, immoral people who only follow their desires and whims,” some sheikhs and even some members of the Royal family say that the ban should be lifted.
Manal al-Sharif is, says the Saudi Women weblog, a woman whom Saudi Arabia should be proud of:
She is one of the first women in the world to be a Certified Ethical Hacker–EC-Council CISSP–(ISC)² Certified ISO 27001 Implementer and Lead Auditor -BSI & ISO. She is an IT security consultant at the biggest oil company in Saudi, ARAMCO. Here is a link to an interview she did in 2007 on MBC. This is an intelligent capable woman asking for something that should have been a given; driving her own car. Shame on her for speaking out for her right. Shame on her for not putting up with 38,000 SAR (10,000$) annual tax for being a woman in Saudi. Shame on her for standing up for women much less fortunate then her, when she easily could have been quiet in her high-paying job and comfortable compound. Shame on her for being a courageous patriotic woman.
I am just inspired reading about her for speaking out, not putting up with the status quo, and driving a car.
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