A self-described “scientific” report issued by Muslim scholars has determined that within ten years Saudi Arabia will have “no more virgins” if the ban on Saudi women driving is lifted.
While Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving a car — an act punishable by arrest and public whipping — Saudi women have been engaged in a highly publicized effort to overturn the ban.
Those protests, which began in earnest in May 2011, have taken the form of an online campaign in which Saudi women have posted videos of themselves driving in an attempt to encourage other women to defy the ban.
The video protests have generated sufficient adverse domestic and international reaction, which prompted Saudi King Abdullah to entertain suggestions that the driving ban be reviewed.
To that end, King Abdullah commissioned a report from Saudi professor Kamal Subhi, in conjunction with Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, to assess the impact that lifting the driving ban would have on Saudi society.
Apart from the apocalyptic vision of an extinct virgin populace, the scholarly report also claimed women drivers would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce,” as seen in other Muslim countries that had allowed women the right to drive.
Empirical proof of that latter claim was offered by Professor Subhi when he recounted his own personal experience sitting in a coffee shop in another Arab nation. According to the horrified Subhi, “All the women were looking at me. One made a gesture that made it clear she was available… this is what happens when women are allowed to drive.”
While Subhi failed to explain what particular gesture the woman had made to force him to reach for the smelling salts, his findings nevertheless have found a receptive audience among conservative Saudi royals and clerics who are chafing at the prospect of any more reforms being pushed through by King Abdullah.
While exceedingly modest by Western standards, Abdullah has nevertheless enacted several reforms on behalf of women, which include giving Saudi women the right to vote in the 2015 municipal elections and a promise to appoint women to the King’s advisory body, the all-male Shura Council.
However, as one prominent Saudi journalist noted, “It will be odd that women who enjoy parliamentary immunity as members of the Shura Council are unable to drive their cars or travel without permission.”
Of course, having long borne the brunt of Saudi Arabia’s rigid interpretation of Sharia law, Saudi women are quite accustomed to being treated in a highly illogical, discriminatory and abusive way.
That treatment manifests itself most visibly in segregation laws, strictly enforced by the Kingdom’s religious police, which require women in public to avoid all contact with men while draped in attire that conceals their entire body, save hands and eyes.
In fact, even displaying one’s eyes can be a source of trouble for a woman, as demonstrated recently when Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) recently announced that it would order women whose eyes seem “tempting” to shield them immediately or face arrest.
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