Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-A group of Saudi Women have expressed their disapproval concerning a statement signed by 500 conservative women and addressed to crown Prince Abdullah Bin AbdulAziz, in which they requested that women should not be allowed to drive. The statement also demanded that editorials in newspapers, which aim to westernize women and bring them out of their homes be ignored.
The letter was signed by 14 academics from the Jeddah and Mecca Universities, the girls” education colleges in the Mecca area, 3 doctors, 7 health workers, 93 teachers, 12 workers, 93 college students, 79 high school students, and 123 educated homemakers. They demanded that the woman should not be allowed to drive a car since this subjects her to harassment in public places, markets, and in front of girls” schools. They also demanded the establishment of a women”s ministry run by sharia clerics.
Saudi businesswoman Raja al-Munif expressed her surprise at the appearance of such statements and said, "These demands are strange. How can they demand a ministry for women that is run by men?" She asked, "A woman is a human being. So how can she not manage her own affairs? As to driving a car, she said, "The woman is free and driving will not be a duty imposed on her". Commenting on their talk that the woman”s place is her house, Raja al-Munif said, "There are academics, doctors, and teachers. Let them leave their work and universities."
The statement, of which Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained a copy of, started by citing parts of the Koran that they interpreted meant that the place of a women is her home and that she should not leave it and that she was created to be a mother and a homemaker. Addressing the crown prince, they added that the Saudi woman is facing a fierce campaign to physically harm her, debase her and send her out of her home to work as a TV presenter, hostess, or sales representative, and considered all such jobs to be an exploitation of women”s bodies.
On his part, Dr. Abu-Bakr Baqadir, member of the National Human Rights Association, said, "We now have the choice of different views." Commenting on the statement, he added, "Since they are demanding that the woman should stay at home, let them therefore leave their jobs."