Not civil police, but religious police. This is a matter for Sharia, and of upholding the segregation of men and women. That is why this issue is so resistant to reform.
And while Manal al-Sherif argues that women’s ability to drive is a matter of safety for the women and those they could help in an emergency, one must remember that this is the same country where in 2002, the Saudi religious police beat young girls back into a burning school in Mecca rather than allowing them to go outdoors unveiled. Fifteen girls died.
Clearly, piety trumps safety. “Saudi woman detained for defying driving ban,” from the Associated Press, May 22:
Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the ultraconservative kingdom and posted a video of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to copy her.
Manal al-Sherif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar and later posted a video of the experience.
“This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country” learn to drive, al-Sherif says in the video. “At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?”
Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said al-Sherif was detained by the country’s religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom’s rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women – both Saudi and foreign – from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor….
You know a seductive left-turn signal could just topple the whole society like a house of cards.