Publication Date: 
Tue, 2011-06-21 03:26

“The traffic police did not expect women to drive on Friday and not one ticket was issued for women that day,” said a Makkah province police source. “It was a normal day on the streets of Jeddah as the police did not see any women driving and we did not respond to the online campaign whatsoever.”
The campaign urged women who drove on the day to upload videos of them driving.
A Saudi woman living in Riyadh uploaded a clip of her driving to the supermarket at 12.45 p.m. the same day. The video showed that the woman was clearly nervous while driving, as she could not keep up with the conversation she was having with the man behind the camera. “We just want to run our lives by ourselves. We don’t need to be driven around. We need to go to work, shop and run errands without having to rely on drivers,” she said in the video.
The campaign was deemed a failure as hardly any women drove that day despite the amount of support for the initiative.
“There were only 40 women who drove in the Kingdom. We expected more,” said Bayan Essam, one of the women supporting the cause.
“I believe the reason behind that is because only a few women know how to drive and there are even fewer who actually have international driving licenses.”
Columnist at Al-Watan newspaper and professor of linguistics at the girls’ college of King Abdulaziz University, Amira Kashgari, also drove her car in Jeddah.
“I took my daughter and made my driver sit in the back seat and drove around Jeddah to support the cause. It’s a matter of delivering a message and upholding a principle. It’s not a matter of whether the campaign was a failure or not. It’s a matter of showing people that we are able to deliver our message through action,” she said.
A group of young men told Arab News they were ready to report any women driving to the police. “We will take pictures of them and give the police their number plates and the time and place where they drove,” said Hattan Abu Ras, one of the men. “Those women are going against Shariah and the Supreme Council of Senior Religious Scholars, and we are going to do anything to keep them off the streets.” The initiative is ludicrous according to Abdullah Al-Qahtani, a 32-year-old Saudi who is against women driving.
“I see women are focusing on unimportant things like driving and not thinking about more important things like finding jobs,” he said.
“In the campaign by the Civil Service department last year, they said they had made available almost 11,000 jobs, but the women who applied exceeded 13,000. I think this proves that we have bigger problems than women driving.”

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