By Daniel Shane
Kingdom’s highest religious authority claims it is in society's best interest that women do not drive
Allowing Saudi Arabian women to drive would lead to more accidents on roads, according to the austere Gulf kingdom’s highest religious authority.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving, as well as imposing a number of other restrictions on areas including employment and travel.
“If women knew the evils and consequences of driving they would realise it is in their interest and society’s interest that they do not drive,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Alsheikh said, according to Saudi news site An7a, as reported by RiyadhBureau.com.
“Women driving would lead to more accidents. When women are in danger, they don’t know how to act. How are they going to deal with accidents?”
In 2012, more than 600 women petitioned Saudi’s King Abdullah to allow women to drive in the country, a year after a group of women’s-rights activists launched the Women2Drive campaign.
Prominent figures such as Princess Ameerah Al Taweel have also spoken in support of women lobbying to overturn the driving ban.
Women’s rights in the Gulf’s most populous country, which practises an austere version of Sharia Law, are a frequent topic of discussion in the world’s media.
Females in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from taking up employment or leaving the country without a male guardian’s permission.
In recent years though there have been indications that absolute monarch King Abdullah has pursued a reformist agenda in terms of women’s rights.
In 2011, it was announced that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015, while in January 2013 30 women were appointed to the country’s legislative Shoura Council.
Some female members of the Shoura Council have said they will lobby for the driving ban to be lifted, although there is not yet a timeframe for when the issue will be discussed.
It was also recently announced that women would be allowed to practice law in a professional environment for the first time.
I dont know what this Grand Mufti is talking about. His country has the highest death rate on the roads in the world with only Men are driving. Female drivers are popular all over the world for their careful way to drive. You can call everything evil whenever its suiting your wrong opinions. But the facts and road deaths in KSA speaking their own language.
Daft comment really. I think this is just an excuse to cover up for the pathetic road infrastructure that Saudi has in spite of all its massive oil wealth. Imagine if they allowed women to drive, the number of cars would dramatically increase, roads would become unmanageable and oil consumption would also shoot up. Thousands of drivers hired can go back home, reducing foreigners and the money outflow. Many positives can come from this, but somehow the policy makers seem to be always shooting themselves in the foot and making the wrong decisions. Makes me wonder whose payroll they really are on...
statistically speaking, women are better drivers than men,
have a look at these:
So what truth does The Saudi Grand Mufti base his declaration upon?!
I remember more than 30 years ago my young Saudi colleagues telling me that ladies should not drive cars. When I asked why, they replied that if they saw ladies driving they would deliberately crash into them in order to be able to talk to them. Sounds ridiculous maybe, but these guys were young and smart and really serious. They had no other options for meeting girls from outside the immediate family. Another sad consequence of the segregation and mistrust of any type of social mixing in the Kingdom.
The Grand Mufti's logic is seriously flawed. look at it this way, if only women were allowed to drive would we have more or less traffic accidents? Duh!
As a practicing Muslim I can only say "God help us" when I hear such embarrassing nonsense from a leader of the Islamic faith. What has happened to our religion. How has it come to be that it is hijacked by such backward thinking individuals.
I worked in "The Kingdom" for 2 years and was scared to death every time I got in a car or bus as it was accelorator on the floor and a hand on the horn. < Change will come but very slowly.
Mufti! talk some sense
Most likely they would be chased around by men and young boys, some guys would even crash into them deliberately, others would at least stop and stare.
I think its more about distracting others on the road and less about the women actually having accidents.
Nevertheless these incidents would die out after the initial excitement passes and it becomes normal thing for women to be behind the wheel.
These comments serve to further illustrate how far KSA has to go, if indeed it ever does.