Monday, July 18, 2005

The Boys Speak

Can’t drive. Can’t learn sports in public schools. No ballet either. Yup, you guessed it were talking about women in Saudi Arabia, close friend and ally of that champion of democracy known as the President of the United States of America.

Now, more than 100 sheikhs, imams, judges, Islamic scholars, university teachers, and several heads of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice centers in Saudi Arabia have signed a statement warning against the dangers of allowing women to drive in the kingdom. That grand group says that "the enemies of Islam" are trying to destroy the great role women have been given in Islam by corrupting them and therefore also corrupting the Islamic world.

These guys, and to be sure they are guys, are up in arms according to AKI over that proposal the OD reported on earlier by Shuria Council member Muhammad al-Zulfa to lift the ban on women drivers (or non drivers, to be more accurate).

The boys also said in the statement that the ruling in Islam that “closing all doors leads to corruption” was clear and was for the protection of people and society. “Women driving cars is not permissible because the ruling of ‘closing doors that leads to corruption’ applies to it directly.”

You figure that one out, I can't.

The fellows also fear that allowing women to drive would lead to multiple car ownership in families and then the government would also have to open up special female sections in all traffic departments (I presume because women applying for licenses or paying tickets couldn't talk to men).

The menfolk also points to the ruling in Islam which says that if an act derives more misdeeds, then it is not permissible, though there is no explanation of what misdeeds women driving would cause, reports the Arab News .

One of the signatories, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, head of the Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Al-Mikhwah in Al-Baha region, told the Arab News a group of righteous (hmm - my comment not his) people approached him and other sheikhs in the region to include their signature to the statement. “They showed us the statement and we read it and agreed with its contents. That is why we signed it,” he said. “I was told that the statement would be delivered to the leaders of our country. But I had no idea that it was posted on the Internet,” he added.

While all this was going on, the Saudi Education Ministry, not to be outdone, banned the teaching of ballet and sports in public schools for girls to conform to Islamic rules. Education Minister Abdullah bin Saleh Abeed confirmed the report. However, he offered a glimmer of great enlightment and said, "there will be a specialized academy for gifted girls in those fields in the near future." What a deal. Sources: Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Science Daily, AKI

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