February 5, 2005

Another election

From The UK Guardian: bq. Veiled hopes Next week, Saudi Arabia is to hold its first elections of any kind for 40 years. Women - who are beginning to make their way in business, journalism and industry - had expected to have the vote: six even put their names forward as candidates. But, in one of the world's most repressive societies, they have been banned from the poll. Can the women who've been struggling for their rights regain lost ground? Natasha Walter finds them in determined mood Both emphases are mine. Natasha then goes on to talk about visiting a "women-only" shopping mall: bq. At the al-Mamlaka shopping mall in Riyadh, women are arriving after the prayer break. Chauffeur-driven cars are drawing up and black-robed figures without faces step out, the only splashes of colour the bags on their arms - Louis Vuitton's pastel logos, Gucci's red and green stripes - and the heeled sandals showing under the hems of their dark wraps. At the entrance a sign, in Arabic and English, states, "Ladies only. No cameras allowed. Please remove your face cover." bq. This is the mall where Saudi women can shop without fear of a man's glance, and they wander around La Senza or Giorgio Armani, chatting into their cellphones, or drink mango juice in the Super Model Cafe. "The Corrs, I love the Corrs," says my companion, Iman al-Kahtani, as the music springs on. Iman is not a typical Saudi woman: at 24, her outspoken journalism, especially on women's rights, has gained her fame. "In our interpretation of Islam, women have no identity," she wrote angrily in an article for the electronic newspaper Elaph. According to Sulaiman al-Hattlan, a columnist for al-Watan newspaper, "If there were five Imans in the kingdom, then we would see some changes.". bq. With Iman's fame has come a furious reaction. "People tell me that I am an infidel - they say I am a shame to my tribe," she says coldly. "But I say that, in this era of globalisation, the tribe really does not count any more. What counts is the individual." Only occasionally does Iman laugh a deep, reluctant laugh, and her young face is heavy with a weight of experience. Her politics are the product of pure rage. "Young girls here are so oppressed," she says. "They receive this education that means you never think about your rights. But I couldn't accept it. I was always angry about it." #1) - Where is their Rosa Parks; #2) - Why is the left still defending this abysmal "culture"; #3) - We are doing something about this -- who else is stepping up to the plate? The women in Saudi Arabia can not drive a car without permission of a "guardian" Why do people on the left have such a blind-spot for this kind of practice -- if President George W. Bush tried to run legislation like this through congress, he would be pilloried and impeached. And don't get me started on "female circumscision"... Posted by DaveH at February 5, 2005 12:22 AM
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