Latest newsletter #151 Click to read online

Saudi Women Underwhelmed - Allowed to Ride Bicycles!

Babette Francis

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke, but on April lst this year the Saudi Arabian “religious authorities” have, in all their boundless benevolence, decreed that women may now ride bicycles and motorised buggies. Of course, there are some “common-sense” restrictions. Women must be covered head-to-toe in a tarp, be accompanied by a male, not ride a bicycle for transportation(!)—only for “entertainment”— and only ride in areas that “are not populated by men,” purportedly to avoid “harassment.”

Isn’t Sharia grand? Well, no. The Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice or Hai’a has decreed that cycling is permitted in parks, beachfronts and deserted rural areas only.

The edict doesn’t say whether the women have to ride side-saddle, but it says they should only ride in places where there are no gatherings of young men to harass them or steal their belongings.

Women must be accompanied by a male guardian “in case of falls or accidents, and the abaya must be worn at all times.” One Saudi woman commented on twitter: “Great- we have been granted the same rights as children!”.

In desert areas on the outskirts of Riyadh dune buggies were rented to men and women alike, but when the scene became lively, women were forbidden from hiring the bikes. “It was felt that the women were showing off to the guys there and the guys were showing off too”, so the authorities clamped down. Now they are being given another chance, perhaps because the authorities realise it is difficult to “show off ” covered in a head-to-foot black tent.

Two wheels good, four wheels bad - Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are forbidden from driving cars, but Rev. Fred Nile’s “Family World News” has a suggestion to overcome the problem: A Burqa Car!

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