SAUDI ARABIA - Women Can Now Drive Motor Vehicles

Arno Froese

Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom.

The change, which will take effect in June 2018, was announced in a royal decree read live on state television and in a simultaneous media event in Washington. The decision highlights the damage that the ban on women driving has done to the kingdom’s international reputation and its hopes for a public relations benefit from the reform.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, is an absolute monarchy ruled according to Shariah law. Saudi officials and clerics have provided numerous explanations for the ban over the years.

Rights groups and Saudi activists have long campaigned for the ban to be overturned, and some women have been arrested and jailed for defying the prohibition and taking the wheel.

Ending the ban on women driving is expected to face some resistance inside the kingdom, where families are highly patriarchal and some men say they worry about their female relatives getting stranded should their cars break down.

Under these laws, women cannot travel abroad, work or undergo some medical procedures without the consent of their male “guardian,” often a father, a husband or even a son. While the enforcement of guardianship laws has loosened in recent years, there is little to stop Saudi men from greatly limiting the movements of their wives or daughters.

The decree said that the majority of the Council of Senior Scholars—the kingdom’s top clerical body, whose members are appointed by the king—had agreed that the government could allow women to drive if done in accordance with Shariah law.

-www.nytimes.com, 26 September 2017

Arno's commentary

According to the Washington Post, road safety rules don’t apply to women in India, and in Yemen a woman is considered only a half a witness. In Morocco, rape victims can be charged with crimes. When we go back in history, some quite surprising facts are discovered relating to women. Today, however, under the spirit of equality, things do change.

While Saudi Arabia’s decree that women are permitted to drive has hit the world press, there is little to nothing said about their extreme policies of persecution against Christians.

Wikipedia states: “Accurate religious demographics are difficult to obtain in Saudi Arabia, but while citizens are considered Muslims by the State, there are believed to be at least 1.5-2 million Christians living in the country.”

A quote from Wikipedia reads: “The percentage of Saudi Arabian citizens who are Christians is officially zero, as Saudi Arabia forbids religious conversion from Islam and punishes it by death. A 2015 study estimates 60,000 Muslims converted to Christianity in Saudi Arabia.” In plain words, Christians are non-humans; that is worse than North Korea, which does allow state-sponsored churches, although with extremely limited freedom.

CNBC documents: “Saudis reportedly plan to invest $40 billion in US infrastructure. Saudi Arabia has been telegraphing its eagerness to invest in the United States for months. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told CNBC in March the kingdom believes U.S. infrastructure in particular is an attractive investment.” This shows the hypocrisy of governments who see human rights, free speech, and religious freedom as of secondary importance to money.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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