Saudi Arabia is the only country on the planet where women are not allowed to drive automobiles. Recently, there have been some hints that the kingdom may relax the prohibition, but that won’t happen if the decision makers listen to the opinions of people, like historian Saleh al-Saadoon.
In a recent T.V. interview, al-Saadoon explained the “unique” circumstances in Saudi Arabia that make the driving ban necessary.
In Saudi Arabia, we have special circumstances. The city of Arar is 150 km away from Al-Jawf. From Al-Jawf to Al-Ha’il it is 400 km. If a woman drives from one city to another and her car breaks down, what will become of her?
The female interviewer points out that women drive in America, in Europe, and in the rest of the Arab world. That’s when al-Saadoon tells her:
They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do.
So there it is. Saudi Arabia won’t let women drive because they are concerned about women being raped after their cars break down. But it gets even worse.
al-Saadoon wasn’t saying that the governments in other countries don’t care if women are raped on the roadside; he was saying that the women don’t care. He continues:
It’s no big deal for them beyond the damage to their morale. In our case, however, the problem is of a social and religious nature.
al-Saadoon says Saudi women are treated “like queens.”
After his statement is met with looks of disbelief from the interviewer, and two other guests who are also from Arab countries, al-Saadoon tries to polish his credentials as a supporter of women. He says:
Saudi women are driven around by their husbands, their sons, and their brothers. Everybody is at their service. They are like queens. A queen without a chauffeur has the honor of being driven around by her husband, brother, son, and nephews.
So, what about those with chauffeurs? Isn’t al-Saadoon concerned that they might be raped by a male chauffeur? That’s the next question the interviewer asks.
Of course he is concerned! That’s why he says that Saudis should bring in female chauffeurs from other countries to drive Saudi women where they want to go. That comment produces a laugh and a facepalm from the interviewer.
There is apparently no truth to the rumor that, after this interview, al-Saadoon was being sought in the United States as a Republican Party consultant.
Here’s the video, via MEMRI-TV: