Why you should give up driving on Friday
A Saudi woman gets out of the backseat of a car in 2011. Religious interpretations prevent women from driving.
June 28th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Why you should give up driving on Friday

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - CNN iReport is asking people all over the world to give up driving for a day - and document it - in support of women in Saudi Arabia, who aren't allowed to drive because of religious rules in that conservative Middle Eastern kingdom.

Go to the iReport assignment page to learn how to participate.

Here's an example video that already came in from the Philippines:

CNN plans to stitch some of the best videos together into a highlight reel that will be published online and may be shown on TV. The effort comes as a group of Saudi women, for the second year, are planning to protest Saudi's driving ban by getting behind the wheel and taking to the streets on Friday. The Women2Drive movement asks the women to upload their road trips to YouTube.

On June 17 of last year, dozens of women took to the streets in similar demonstrations.

Manal al-Sharif, whose driving video sparked the protest, was arrested and detained for her involvement.

Here's a profile I wrote after meeting al-Sharif this year. Perhaps the most powerful thing about her story (besides the fact that The Backstreet Boys had a hand in her transforming from Osama bin Laden supporter to human rights activist) is she believes that if Saudi women stand up and take control of their rights, the rest of the country will follow suit. "When women break that taboo and they're not afraid to drive that car by herself - that's it," she said. "Now she has the guts to speak up for herself and take action."

She's encouraged also by the movement's support outside of Saudi Arabia.

Check out a 2011 video of her driving below:

Out of fear for her safety, al-Sharif says she won't participate in the protests on Friday. But the protests are expected to continue in the spirit of that widely circulated video she uploaded last summer.

It's unclear how large the demonstrations will become, but you can follow the conversation about the driving women on CNN, iReport and on the Twitter hashtag #Women2Drive. The group also asks people who support the campaign to change their Twitter avatars to this photo. And Amnesty International also is collecting photos of people who support the driving campaign.

Saudi women have been pushing for the right to drive since the early 1990s, but with little luck. The Saudi kingdom, which enforces a conservative interpretation of Islamic law, also bans women from making formal decisions without the permission of a male guardian. Women don't have the right to vote or hold public office in Saudi Arabia, although that is expected to change in 2015. Earlier this week, the country's London embassy announced it would let women compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Organizers say the Women2Drive movement stands in for many women's rights issues in the country.

iReport: What if you weren't allowed to drive


soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Wreckless Driver

    Does this also mean that women are not allowed to "Drive you crazy?"

    Wait a minute...Friday is their religous day, so therefore most people don't drive anyhow in their country on that day. Kind of like Billy that made the first comment is probably recovering from a hang-over anyhow on Sunday. (Our non-drive day!)

    June 29, 2012 at 2:55 am | Reply
  2. josh rogen

    symbolism is lost on those who would just as soon behead you then listen. so to the few Americans that can sill afford to drive their cars go for it. the world doesn't care what Americans think about anything anymore.

    June 29, 2012 at 3:54 am | Reply
  3. GOD

    HELLO EVERYONE, THIS IS GOD, HAVING READ YOUR COMMENTS I NOW WILL BE IMPLEMENTING YOUR SUGGESTIONS. Just kidding nothing you say here matters at all.

    June 29, 2012 at 6:42 am | Reply
  4. Madiha

    I'm Saudi and proud to be a muslim Saudi lady.. I just wanted to clearify something.. Religion is not behind this. It's not forbidden in Islam to drive, but it's a traditional issue..

    We have women driving in small villages but it's not allowed to drive in big cities for specific reasons and the most important one is protecting Saudi women from any kind of temptations.

    Have a great day,

    June 29, 2012 at 7:30 am | Reply
    • HAMID

      Temptation like maybe Arab men. OMG way too too too funny!

      June 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply
      • Frank

        We know how to work it out without any external intervention .we need no one so please keep away.

        June 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  5. Paul

    World must ignore the situation in syria, saudi especially Arab people. They are covertly or overtly supporting the idiotic fundamental Islamic ideas and most of them are fanatic idiots. They are happy in their situation and world should not waste energy on that. Look at the people of far east ( Vietnam, Thailand, India, Cambodia), and south america. They just want to live peacefully not like this who want to overrun and impose their idea everywhere. Help peaceful people. It is a mistake that NATO supported Libya. Look at Gaza and now Egypt.

    June 29, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
  6. Erik

    What? CNN is taking a political stance by asking everyone to protest a law in Saudi Arabia that they disagree with? I thought CNN was a new-reporting agency. Makes you wonder about their ability to report in an un-biased fashion.

    June 29, 2012 at 8:45 am | Reply
  7. Frank Jimmies

    I like how people think Billy up there is a 'hick' and 'intolerant'.
    Aren't we talking about an entire region of people that have laws against women going outside without their husbands, and laws against women driving?

    Sounds like I know which is 'intolerant'.
    Besides, my buddy from Saudi calls himself Sand N*****. It's pretty funny.

    June 29, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  8. Guess What

    Billy,

    II bet your a good christian, go to church and pray to your Lord and God Jesus Christ who by the way was also a "sand ni**er"

    June 29, 2012 at 10:12 am | Reply
    • hom

      Its hilarious how many guilty white people are posting here

      June 29, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Gene

      Islam means "peace" IF (and this is a HUGE IF) one "submits and surrenders to your allah and way of life". Islam is a declaration of war against everything non-muslim and even "not-muslim-enough". When you take the 100's of passages in the koran as ABSOLUTE that deal with hate, intolerance and fighting, it is no wonder that Islam is the core reason for over 95% of all world wars and conflicts found today throughout the globe.

      Remember...mohammad (terrorist and pedophile himself) and his followers did not go tent to tent asking arabs to become muslim...he pointed a sword at them telling them to convert, pay up (call jizya in arabic), or FIGHT/DIE!

      Your actions of this religion for the last 1,200 years...especially today...PROVE what islam is all about.

      June 30, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply
  9. ready

    Couldn't care any less than I already do about people in Saudi Arabia. Not walking on my 40 minute commute, no thanks you detached from society journalist.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
  10. Dave in Tennessee

    It's going to be 105 degrees Fahrenheit today. I'm not giving up my AC and walking to work. (there is no public transportation in my area)

    June 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  11. boats and ho's

    Lets just ban women drivers from driving on Friday's in support of this. I bet that'll clear up a lot of traffic issues here in the states. Female drivers are the worst...

    June 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  12. Jade

    Funny how these comment sections always devolve into vitriol about each other rather than the issue at hand. It's so American.

    June 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • sam

      Actually, it's human nature, not specifically american, you ass.

      June 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  13. stokeNY

    Sweet! A good excuse to take the train to the bar and feel like I'm a part of something!

    June 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  14. Walter Sieruk

    Islamic culture results in the mindset that women have no right to drive. Many things in Islamic culture are a lot more anti-female that. This is because Islam is a religion of misogyny. This misogyny doe's, in fact. get really extremethen that. So much that it gets much worse the women not being allowed to drive a car. An example of how terrible this Islamic anti-female mindset is that such evil,absurd and outrageous wicked things as "honor killings" take place. These "honor killings" are in reality nothing more then the cold blooded murder of young girls. There are even some internet sites exposing the heinous evil of this practice. Not only is this cruel and viscious practice common in Islamic countires but tragically this murderous custom has also come to the West due to the rise of islamic immigration. In the subject of women not being allowed do drive in some Islamic countries is just the tip of the iceburg of the many things wrong with Islam.

    June 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  15. fernace

    That whole part of the world needs to join the 21st century & stop treating women like chattel, property & servants! If that happened then we wouldn't have to make a big deal about Saudi Arabian women driving, they would be able to do what any modern woman does: make up her own mind, make her own decisions & express her own opinions!!

    July 1, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Reply
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