Women in Saudi Arabia were overjoyed when a driving ban was lifted giving them the permission to drive. However, for Salma al Shari, this happiness was short-lived.
Like many other women, Al Shari started exercising her right to drive as soon as the conservative kingdom lifted the ban. But men who lived in the neighborhood kept threatening her to stop driving because for them this was “against the will of God.”
“Half of my salary of 4,000 riyals ($1,067) was spent on a driver to take me to my workplace and drive my elderly parents,” she said.
“But from the first day of driving I was subjected to insults from men,” she added.
The 31-year-old who works as a cashier near the holy city of Mecca said her car was torched deliberately by men who “opposed to women drivers.”
In the footage shared on social media, Al Shari can be seen crying in pain as two arsons burn her car.
Her family was never against her driving. She said she worked to help her family with their expenses and her husband actually encouraged her to take the wheel.
Two men who reportedly burned down the car were arrested by Saudi police officials.
“The incident is being investigated by security officials,” Mecca police said in a statement released by local authorities, adding that they were searching for the culprits. It is not yet clear if her car was insured or not.
Even though Saudi Arabia lifted the draconian ban on June 24, enabling women to drive after taking up costly driving lessons, sexist double standards and bigotry in the name of religion continue to plague the kingdom.
Clearly, men of the staunchly patriarchal monarchy can’t get their head around the notion of women driving on the roads, taking control of their travel needs.
Note to the harassers who burned the car: violence is “against the will of God” for all religions.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Hamad I Mohammed