Wednesday, February 15, 2006
….and that decision was not to make a decision.
Muhammad Al-Zulfa, a member of the Shoura Council said yesterday that he was hopeful the government would step in to lift the ban on women driving after the consultative body refused to debate his proposal to end the ban.
The trouble is, the government has very deftly been passing the buck on this issue….
The King himself said that granting women the right to drive rested on the shoulders of society….
….whatever that was supposed to mean, but it was clear he wants nothing to do with it. Meanwhile his dimmer half-brother was slightly more explicit….
….while Minister of Interior Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying the issue was open for discussion
….and as there’s only one place where discussions take place, that obviously meant our Shoura Council. The Shoura Council, unkindly called by some the "Poodle Parliament", is like your Parliament or Congress, except that it’s not elected, has no political parties, meets in secret, and never opposes the government. But apart from that, it’s like your Parliament or Congress. And it does do a lot of discussing, so that was the place to discuss lifting the ban on women drivers. So one of its members put forward some legislation….
Zulfa introduced his proposal to lift the ban last year as part of wider traffic law
….but it died a death….
Press reports, quoting the Shoura’s secretary-general, said the council rejected Zulfa’s proposal, which had sparked a heated debate in the local media.
Why was it rejected?
The secretary-general said women’s driving was skipped over among other reasons because of a fatwa or religious edict issued on the matter. The reference was to a fatwa issued in 1991 by the then mufti and head of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz, prohibiting women from driving cars.
It was rejected because religious rulings or fatwas are deemed to be the ultimate law, and cannot be over-ruled, except by another fatwa. And we have been lumbered with a fatwa issued by a now-dead Chief Imam or Mufti who, before he departed this mortal life, decided that he didn’t like the idea of women driving. And we’re stuck with that, until some new Mufti decides that he does like the idea of women driving. And what are the chances of an elderly misogynist Muslim theologian saying "Hey, wouldn’t it be cool for women to drive!"
So it looks like the ban is here to stay. However, Mr Al-Zulfa, who introduced the proposal, does see a glimmer of light….
Muhammad Al-Zulfa, a member of the Shoura Council said yesterday that he was hopeful the government would step in to lift the ban on women driving
But hang on, isn’t that where we started? Let’s not go round that loop again.
Tell you what, Shoura Council, roll over and I’ll tickle your tummies.