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Saudi Woman Faces Flogging For Driving

Saudi Woman Faces Flogging For Driving
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A Saudi Arabian woman whose sentence of ten lashes for driving was initially pardoned by King Abdullah in September could still face flogging, even after no one less than Princess Ameerah al-Taweel, wife of King Abdallah’s billionaire nephew Al-Waleed Ibn Talal and a longstanding champion of women’s right to drive, announced on Twitter in September that she would not face such a cruel punishment.

In July, Shaima Jastaniah was arrested for driving in the coastal city of Jeddah. A number of Saudi women had sought to break the ban on women driving in June by getting behind the wheel, after computer security consultant Manal al-Sharif not only drove but videotaped herself doing so and uploaded the video to YouTube. Sharif was imprisoned for several days in May and released on bail, on the grounds that she not drive, not talk to the media and return for questioning as requested.

On November 12, Jastaniah was served with legal notice that she will be flogged, a humiliating and painful punishment, unless she wins a legal appeal on December 12. Jastaniah’s sentence was notably harsh. The usual police response if a woman drives and is stopped is that she must sign a pledge not to “misbehave” again. While some women have driven and signed the pledge more than a few times, Jastaniah’s case was referred to Saudi Arabia’s conservative shariah court system and a judge ordered the sentence of ten lashes for what should have been considered a misdemeanor with a fine. But Jastaniah’s driving is being treated as a criminal act.

On September 28, it had seemed that Jastaniah would be pardoned for driving after Princess Ameerah al-Taweel on Twitter declared, after her husband had spoken to the King on behalf of Jastaniah,

“#women2drive Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am.”

That tweet was the “most official statement of royal pardon” that Jastaniah received. But the Kingdom’s clerics have apparently taken no notice of it. Writing in The Atlantic, Nivien Saleh takes up Jastaniah’s case and from a very personal angle. Saleh teaches Middle Eastern politics at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and Jastaniah was her student and friend while studying in the university’s Master of Liberal Arts Program.

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98 comments

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5:55AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

noted

10:14AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

This is cruel,and inhumane!!!! And it is just because the lady got behind the wheel of a car to drive!??! Sheesh!!!!

7:44AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Women should be able to drive anywhere men drive, period.

6:42AM PST on Dec 13, 2011

THIS WOMAN SHOULD NOT BE FLOGGED.

3:21PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

The most important allies and friend of the USA is Saudi Arabia . Is it so because Saudi do not allow women to drive a car.???

3:00PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

The most important allies and friend of the USA is Saudi Arabia . Is it so because the Saudi Arabia do not allow women to drive a car.???

11:14AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

So Linda T, you clearly didn't do your homework. You reacted with a lie, something that you'd "heard".

9:58AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

@ John D.

I too am a Brit., and I don't know about you, but I was brought up to know that it's impolite to call someone a liar! You are so much younger though and young people are so much more coarse than when I was being taught manners!

However, I dutifully read the entire article about the women in University and was pleasantly surprised, since I was in Saudi in the early '90s and the incident I spoke of was indeed true and in the English language Arab News.
I worked in a hair dressers, which was illegal, because all salons had been closed, due to a princess being raped in one, by her boy friend who slipped in by the back door. All salons were closed that day, and my friend, also a Brit opened one later, in partnership with a Sheika. We had two separate front doors, one which had to be closed before the other could be opened and no back door at all (We wondered what would happen if there had been a fire!)

Anyway, you have obviously not read my previous posts, since I am most DEFINITELY NOT an Islamophobe, having lived in many Islamic countries, including Iran, 7 years, Turkey, nearly a year, Saudi 3 years, Indonesia, nearly a year, Libya 6 months, and hitch hiked years before in Morocco. I LOVED living in Iran and had a great beginning to married life there and being with a young child, which was wonderful, because there I could afford to hire a woman to clean, and she ADORED my baby! Indonesia is one of the most beautiful places on earth an

11:42PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

Men the world over - honor your women! This is a travesty!!

4:21PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

All people who are driving, especially those in the US, should be flogged. It's destroying our planet and it's not a human right. Wake up and smell the exhaust fumes!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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