Riyadh’s decision to overturn a ban on women driving in the kingdom spurs euphoria and sarcasm on social media.
Barely a week after a senior Saudi cleric said women in the country should not be allowed to drive because they have “a quarter the brainpower of men“, Saudi Arabia’s king issued a decree that women will now be able to obtain a driver’s licence.
The decree said that women would be allowed to drive “in accordance with the Islamic laws” and a high-level committee of ministers has been set up to organise the implementation of the order.
Saudi state TV said that the rollout of the changes would take until June 2018. However, the Saudi ambassador to the United States reportedly said that Saudi women with a driver’s licence from any of the GCC states would be allowed to drive immediately in the country.
Euphoria and disbelief
The decision has sparked euphoria and disbelief among activists in the kingdom, which was the only country in the world to ban women from driving.
Dr Madawi al-Rasheed, a Saudi academic, congratulated the women activists in a tweet and wished for “political and civil rights and an elected government” to follow.
She also warned that the decision was aimed at diverting attention from Saudi Arabian human rights abuses, such as the arrest of political dissidents.
Halthloul and another woman activist, Maysaa al-Amoudi, who was also detained, have been credited with successfully campaigning against the driving ban.
She later posted a picture of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with the caption “And they blame me for loving you”.
However, reactions from around the world pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s new decree was not as progressive as the kingdom hoped it would be received.
Some hit back at sexist jokes that flooded Saudi Twitter in the wake of the driving ban being lifted, reminding people that Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest car accidents rates, while only men are driving.
Source: Al Jazeera News