Following the shocking arrest of Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif for her creation of a social media campaign intended to help women learn how to drive, a disturbing new counter movement has launched. The "Iqal Campaign" is encouraging Saudi men to beat any woman who takes part in an upcoming protest. According to FOX News:
A campaign on Facebook is calling for Saudi men to beat women who plan to drive cars in a protest next month, AFP reports.
"The Iqal Campaign: June 17 for preventing women from driving" advocates a cord be used to beat women who plan to drive. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
Some 6,000 people have "liked" the campaign on Facebook.
The initial protest was planned in response to Saudi Arabia's restrictive law that prevents women (even foreigners) from operating a vehicle. This new, violent counter-movement may have horrific consequences for those women who do decide to participate. Interestingly, there is no law on the books that actually bans Saudi women from driving.
The restrictions come as a result of religious proclamations (fatwas) that are substantiated and enforced by law enforcement officials. While King Abdullah has pledged reform, the religious clerics' views on matters of women's rights continue to dominate the sociopolitical landscape.
Last week, we reported on the other restrictions Saudi women face:
Women are also barred from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit on the kingdom’s Cabinet. Women also cannot travel without permission from a male guardian and shouldn’t mingle with males who are not their husbands or brothers.
In case you missed it, you can watch the original video of al-Sharif driving below: