The Middle East is always great for a laugh. And then a cry. Consider the Associated Press’ bizarre story of Manal al-Sherif. She created the Facebook page Teach Me How to Drive So I Can Protect Herself. And then she was detained. While the Facebook group should be renamed Teach Me How to Drive Because I’m not An Animal, I’ll go easy on Manal—she lives in a part of the world where stoning women is still an acceptable form of punishment with a disturbingly large segment of the population. How sad is it that she has to frame the argument as a safety measure, as opposed to a “Saudi Arabia is a backwards nation” measure?
Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said al-Sherif was detained by the country’s religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom’s rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.
Al-Sherif was released hours later, according to the campaign’s Twitter account. The terms of her release were not immediately clear.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.
Although it turns out that national security is not high on the minds of Americans these days, perhaps there can be a new litmus test for how cozy we are with other countries: If you do a Google search on their women, and it’s next to impossible to find a picture of them on a unicycle, perhaps you shouldn’t count on them to be a reliable ally on…pretty much anything. Why is it easier to find pictures of Muslim women being prepared for a stoning than it is to find them riding unicycles? Think of something twisted and strange and weird and do a Google search on it. You should be able to find an image that’s in the ballpark of what you’re looking for. Heck, I suppose I did find images of Muslim women on bicycles. Unfortunately, it appears as though even then they’re relegated to being inert passengers.
Bicycle built for two? You must be kidding me. That would require the man and woman to be equals, and as we all know a woman’s word in court (in that part of the world) is only worth a fraction of a man’s. I wonder if their husbands put them in the shopping cart when they go to the grocery store…
In related news, liberal feminists still think Sarah Palin is a direct threat to women’s rights in the United States.