This single supporting the right of women to drive came out only yesterday but already has over 16,000 views, with a divided 300+ thumbs up and 400+ thumbs down on YouTube. Shams, known for her political songs, was born in Saudi Arabia and is of mixed Saudi-Kuwaiti heritage.
The timing of the song’s release is no accident. It comes right in the buildup to Oct. 26, which has been proclaimed by Saudi activists as a day to defy the kingdom’s ban against women driving. The petition for#قيادة_26اكتوبر was posted online just five days ago, and has already gathered over 10,000 signatures, with public support by many prominent Saudi personalities and even a Shoura Council member.
There have only been two other similar days of defiance for women driving in Saudi Arabia in the past. The first was on Nov. 6, 1990, when participating women were punished with travel bans, job losses and public shame and harassment. That was the only form of public protest against the kingdom’s law banning women from driving until two years ago. Jun. 17, 2011 was the second and last day of defiance, which resulted in some women being forced to sign a pledge promising never to drive again.
Be sure to check out http://www.oct26driving.com to learn more about the current campaign and lend your support. And here’s the English translation of the Oct. 26 petition below:
1- Since there is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so, we urge the state to provide appropriate means for women seeking the issuance of permits and licenses to apply and obtain them.
2- Many claim that this is a “societal decision”. However the public discourse will not be resolved except through a firm governmental decision to implement what was proposed in point one. Here it is important to point out that women will not be forced to drive if they do not wish to do so.
3- Deferring an issue such as this until a “societal consensus”, has only increased divisions because it constitutes that some will be forced to concede. We as a Saudi people are diverse and accepting of all views that are not prohibited in the Quran or by the Prophet.
4- In case the Saudi government maintains the ban on women driving, we demand that it presents to the citizens a valid and legal justification and not simply to defer it to a societal consensus.
5- In case the government refuses to lift the ban on women driving and refuses to provide the people with a legal and valid justification, we demand that it provides “society” with a legal mechanism through which it can express what it wants.
WE SAID THIS: Solidarity, sisters!