King Salman of Saudi Arab has finally issued a decree permitting women to drive in the country for the very first time. Reports will be prepared by government ministries within the next month and implementation of the order will begin from June 2018.
It is important to mention that Saudi Arab is the only country that has banned women driving. If women drive they can be arrested or fined. Campaigns have been going on for years in support of women driving.
Saudi Press Agency said, “The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women alike.”
Prince Khaled bin Salman the US ambassador of Saudi Arab said, “A historic and big day” and “the right decision at the right time,” has been made.
Also, he further confirmed that women would not have to ask their male guardians to drive, they will be allowed to drive freely without any obligations.
The reaction on the news from US State Department was “a great step in the right direction.”
Women2Drive campaign organizer Manal al-Sharif said on Twitter that Saudi Arabia would “never be the same again”.
Sahar Nassif an activist in Jeddah said she was “very, very excited – jumping up and down and laughing”.
She said, “I’m going to buy my dream car, a convertible Mustang, and it’s going to be black and yellow.”
On social media the new hashtags gaining popularity are “I am my own guardian” and “Saudi Women Can Drive”
On the flip side, critics are everywhere. So a critic’s response to the decision was
“As far as I remember, Sharia scholars have said it was haram for women to drive. How come it has suddenly become halal?”
Well, Islam doesn’t forbid women to drive. It might be the wishes of few men residing in Saudi Arab or interpretation of few shallow scholars, but it is far from true.
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So what is next after this decision is implemented? It is a new start for the women of Saudi Arab. It is important that women in Saudi Arab understand their rights and fight for them. They need to step forward to play their role in the development and growth of their country. Women allowed to drive in Saudi Arab might mean nothing to many of us, but for those women, it is a beginning towards their rightful freedom. They are not better than men, but they are not worse either. They are equal, and that right is given to them by their religion. It’s time they stand up for themselves.