More than 500 Saudi citizens, providing their full names and occupation have signed this petition to the Saudi King. I got the text of their letter, below, from the facebook group Al Huriyah Li Manal Al Sharif-Khitab Li Al Malik (Freedom For Manal Al Sharif – People’s Petition to the King) formed in support of Manal Masoud and women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Most posts to the group are in Arabic (thanks Rahaf for the translation). This has been festering since the first Gulf War. See report of an earlier campaignSaudis Debate Ban on Women Drivers, by Robert Mackey, NYT, May 9, 2007
To the Custodian of the two holy mosques
Peace be upon you
We the children of this country have been very hurt by the news of the arrest of your citizen Manal Masoud Al Sharif on Saturday 22//5/2011 on the grounds that she was driving her car in the streets of Khobar in the company of her brother. And while we were relieved at her release in the evening, we were shocked by her detention again at dawn in a very humiliating way for both our country and its people, since she was asked to sign a warrant and was instead tricked and arrested against her will. Manal is at Dammam’s Correctional at this very moment.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, you have stated in 2007 to the Russian News Network that the issue of Women Driving is a social one and that the state was to facilitate a suitable environment for any decision that the society deems appropriate. The Minister of Interior has also stated that the issue is a social one and not religious, which theoretically means that if society wants to lift the ban, there should be no obstacles. The same thing was repeated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs: that the decision for women to drive the car is up to their family. Abdullah Al Munee’a, a member of the Higher Council of Ulama, has said that there is no objection from the religious point of view for women to drive. In addition, article 38 of the Basic Law states: there should be no personal or criminal punishment that is not based on a religious or official decree; and since the issue of women’d driving is not a violation of any official law or any religious law, then women should not be arrested for driving their cars based on article 36 that prohibits the baseless restriction on actions and arrest.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
We call on you to release your daughter and citizen Manal Al Sharif immediately and remove the injustice she has been subjected to, since she drove her car in the company of her brother, with his consent, and she had a recognized driving license in accordance with the Traffic law as outlined by article 2 section 34 of the law.
We also believe that the time has come to resolve the issue of women’s driving for once and for all in a clear manner. To say that its a social issue and is not prohibited by religion, and then for women to get arrested is completely unjust and it leaves us trapped in a vicious circle. We are in a desperate need for a clear law that either prohibits or allows women to drive.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, you have said your famous saying that women are your wife, mother and daughter. Your daughter Manal Al Sharif is in jail for no crime that she committed. Will you remove this injustice? We all hope for the prompt freedom for Manal.
May God Bless You and Look after You..
[Hundreds of signatories]