Saudi or Sharia: Where the blame really lies for female subjugation within Islam

Newspapers everywhere reported yesterday of a joyous occasion in the Middle East. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called an end to campaigns for universal suffrage in the country when he announced that women would now be allowed to vote and stand as candidates in all local and national elections.

While it is too late for women to vote in the election on thursday (they will have to wait four years for the next one) it is a massive step. Saudi Arabia is the last country in the entire world to stop women from voting and a huge leap for civilisation as well as feminism.

Us women in the west take for granted the vote; we forget the struggles of our suffragist and suffragette predecessors; we often don’t even use the vote they fought for so ardently. Yet in Saudi, despite gaining the right to vote, women are still not even allowed to ride a bike! They cannot exercise the most basic of freedoms such as working or travelling. It is a harsh reminder just how lucky we are as women in the West worrying about a 12% pay gap and the glass ceiling.

While many may put it down to restrictive Sharia law this is a simplistic and small-minded view. In the majority of predominantly Muslim nations such as Sharjah Abu-Dhabi and Dubai Sharia still exists yet women have much the same rights as men and lead the same fulfilling life as many males (albeit while wearing a burkha, hijab or niqab.)

It is countries like Saudi that perpetuate this western fear of Islam and Sharia law in particular. France have already alienated one of the largest religions in the world with their ill-thought-out ban on the burkha. Hopefully this monumental change in legislation will serve to enlighten politicians and the public alike to the fact that Islam is not – as the extremists have illustrated – a scary and backward faith but one which promotes a tolerant and dignified way of life.

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2 Responses

  1. Although I agree with most of what you have said here, the final sentence, I believe, is very much false. Islam clearly is a “scary and backward faith” with evidence of this coming in today’s news where a woman is to recieve 10 lashes for simply driving a car.

    • But that is exactly what I am trying to say. It isn’t actually the religion itself but lawmakers’ false interpretation of it. Most scholars of the qu’ran with tell you that the Muslim holy book preaches nothing of the sort. This is where the prejudice comes from because people see things like this happen in Muslim countries and assume that this is part of their faith. It isn’t at all. When these things happen it is the bad judgement and lack of rights within a GOVERNMENT not a religion.

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