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Women in Saudi Arabia to vote and run in elections

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by da_juice, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. da_juice

    da_juice Member

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    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15052030

    Women in Saudi Arabia are to be given the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, King Abdullah has announced.

    He said they would also have the right to be appointed to the consultative Shura Council.

    The move was welcomed by activists who have called for greater rights for women in the kingdom, which enforces a strict version of Sunni Islamic law.

    The changes will occur after municipal polls on Thursday, the king said.

    King Abdullah announced the move in a speech at the opening of the new term of the Shura Council - the formal body advising the king, whose members are all appointed.

    "Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior clerics and others... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term," he said.

    "Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote."

    Cautious reformer
    Continue reading the main story
    Analysis
    Emily Buchanan

    BBC world affairs correspondent

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Saudi Arabia is a conservative society which has been inching towards reform under the leadership of King Abdullah, himself a reformist.

    About 10 years ago the king said women should be central to the Saudi economy. Since then, change has been gradual for fear of a religious backlash.

    Steps have been taken to reduce segregation and give more respect to women. Now, allowing women to stand and vote in municipal elections is a big step towards political reform, even though the municipal councils have very little power.

    The right for women to join the all- male Shura Council could turn out to be even more significant as it is the most influential political body in the country.

    The BBC's world affairs correspondent Emily Buchanan says it is an extraordinary development for women in Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to drive, or to leave the country unaccompanied.

    She says there has been a big debate about the role of women in the kingdom and, although not everyone will welcome the decision, such a reform will ease some of the tension that has been growing over the issue.

    Saudi writer Nimah Ismail Nawwab told the BBC: "This is something we have long waited for and long worked towards."

    She said activists had been campaigning for 20 years on driving, guardianship and voting issues.

    Another campaigner, Wajeha al-Huwaider, said the king's announcement was "great news".

    "Now it is time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function, to live a normal life without male guardians," she told Reuters news agency.

    Correspondents say King Abdullah has been cautiously pressing for political reforms, but in a country where conservative clerics and some members of the royal family resist change, liberalisation has been very gradual.

    In May more than 60 intellectuals called for a boycott of Thursday's ballot saying "municipal councils lack the authority to effectively carry out their role".

    Municipal elections are the only public polls in Saudi Arabia.

    More than 5,000 men will compete in municipal elections on Thursday - the second-ever in the kingdom - to fill half the seats in local councils. The other half are appointed by the government.

    The next municipal elections are due in four years' time.

    About 100 years too late, but better now than never I guess.

    I wonder if this is due to the widespread revolutions throughout the region? The Saudis are probably the strictest and most conservative in the Arab World. Perhaps Abdullah's sarting to feel the heat?
     
  2. Mathloom

    Mathloom Shameless Optimist
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    King Abdullah is probably one of the most preferred kings in Saudi history. When you compare him with other Saudi royal family, he has been a star. I would even go as far as to say sometimes I think he would push a lot more if he could.

    What others don't realize is that regardless of who is the king of Saudi Arabia, there is a heavy resistance to change internally (royal family, biased towards arab culture) and externally (clerics, religious leaders, Mecca, biased towards Islam) which is probably extremely difficult to overcome.

    Taking that into consideration, he's done a relatively excellent job in his time.

    I'm happy for the women of Saudi Arabia. I'm looking forward to other issues being resolved such as women driving, early marriages, unemployment, and hopefully this Shura Council will be more than an advisory council in which the members are hand picked by the king.
     
  3. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    Can they drive a car?
     
  4. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    Sure, but not on the roads, that is illegal...

    ;)

    Still a step in the rigth direction, now if they could just oust that royal family that has been raping that country and it's citizens.....

    DD
     
  5. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    Props. We might not think it progressive enough but it's a move in the right direction. You can't turn Saudi Arabia into a liberal Western democracy overnight, so I'll be happy for whatever progress they do make.
     
  6. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Sure. And then they get stoned.
     
  7. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    So pot is legal there?

    DD
     
  8. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

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    Easier to find hash.
     
  9. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    Can women in America drive? :p /sexism
     
  10. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
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    A tiny step in the right direction.
     
  11. shastarocket

    shastarocket Contributing Member

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    It is good to hear that they at least have the intention of making change, but I think it is worth noting that this will not go into effect until the next term...which is in 2015...

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...lah-gives-women-right-vote-2015.html?ITO=1490

    King Abdullah is 87...forgive me for saying this, but I think there is a greater chance of him not seeing 2015 than this coming into existence (I guess it all depends on the successor)
     
  12. Mathloom

    Mathloom Shameless Optimist
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    Most of the royal family were not as convinced by this shura council thing, and the two next in line are around as old as King Abdullah as well. Interesting times for Saudi, they will face fresh challenges.
     
  13. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic?
     
  14. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
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    Meanwhile, in Saudi-Arabia...

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4469027...di-court-orders-woman-be-whipped-driving-car/

    Saudi court orders woman to be whipped for driving car

    CAIRO — A Saudi woman was sentenced Tuesday to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom's prohibition on female drivers, the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.
    Normally, police just stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.
    Story: Saudi king: Women will be able to vote in municipal elections
    Making Tuesday's sentence all the more upsetting to activists is that it came just two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women's rights and decreed that women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to a currently all-male advisory body known as the Shura Council.

    The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonizing the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
    Retaliation?
    Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday's sentencing as a retaliation of sorts from the hard-line Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.
    "Our king doesn't deserve that," said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said, "The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction."
    The driver, Shaima Jastaina, in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission, activist Samar Badawi said. The punishment is usually carried out within a month. It was not possible to reach Jastaina, but Badawi, in touch with Jastaina's family, said she appealed the verdict.

    Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans 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.
    There are no written laws that restrict women from driving. Rather, the ban is rooted in conservative traditions and religious views that hold giving freedom of movement to women would make them vulnerable to sins.
    Activists say the religious justification is irrelevant.
    "How come women get flogged for driving while the maximum penalty for a traffic violation is a fine, not lashes?" Zein el-Abydeen said. "Even the Prophet (Muhammad's) wives were riding camels and horses because these were the only means of transportation."
    Campaign to break taboo
    Since June, dozens of women have led a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign's founder, Manal al-Sherif, who posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released after signing a pledge not to drive or speak to media.
    Since then, women have been appearing in the streets driving their cars once or twice a week.
    Until Tuesday, none had been sentenced by the courts. But recently, several women have been summoned for questioning by the prosecutor general and referred to trial.
    One of them, housewife Najalaa al-Harriri, drove only two times, not out of defiance, but out of need, she says.
    "I don't have a driver. I needed to drop my son off at school and pick up my daughter from work," she said over the phone from the western port city of Jeddah.
    "The day the king gave his speech, I was sitting at the prosecutor's office and was asked why I needed to drive, how many times I drove and where," she said. She is to stand trial in a month.
    After the king's announcement about voting rights for women, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abdel Aziz Al Sheik blessed the move and said, "It's for women's good."
    Al-Harriri, who is one of the founders of a women's rights campaign called "My Right My Dignity," said, "It is strange that I was questioned at a time the mufti himself blessed the king's move."
    Asked if the sentencing will stop women from driving, Maha al-Qahtani, another female activist, said, "This is our right, whether they like it or not."


    -------------

    Apparently, the Saudi king has overturned that embarrassing verdict in the meantime, but what kind of society is that...
     
  15. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Contributing Member

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    The Saudi king has actually gone on record and stated that he's in favor of women driving. Women have been driving in the less populated areas of the country for years. The problem is that there is an unofficial prohibition in the cities.

    The Saudi king may be the dictator but he has to tread lightly in the face of a very powerful religious establishment and the rest of the royal family.

    But I agree, (like 99% of people) that it is ridiculous. The problem is that the Saudi king has far less power than one would think on this matter.
     
  16. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    so someone makes thread about a positive development for women in the arab world and someone else has to play debbie downer. whah whahhh

    yes i haven't watched snl in like 8 years
     
  17. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
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    So you think only positive developments should be reported? :confused:
     
  18. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    Sigh, what happened to the good old days where Kings just killed all the religious leaders that didn't agree with them?

    DD
     
  19. shastarocket

    shastarocket Contributing Member

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  20. Mathloom

    Mathloom Shameless Optimist
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    Nice. Was very happy to read that news.
     

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