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Saudi Arabia Lifts Cycling Ban for Women

Pressures region into promoting feminism

| Written by wardzeyada

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 16:39

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Saudi Arabia has surprisingly announced that women will be able to ride bicycles in certain designated areas throughout the country. The controversial decision appears to be a result of pressures from the international community to refrain from using the term "it" when referring to a female.

Women in the Gulf kingdom are prohibited from driving, voting, sneezing in public, and watching Egyptian satellite channels. However, gender segregation has all but diminished, thanks largely to the overwhelming employment opportunities, and the evermore liberal dress code. The days of subtle differences between the sexes are gone; now women can dress in colors (choice of green and black), use Arabic words not mentioned in the Qur'an, and, starting anytime within the next eight years, ride bicycles in certain areas.

Indeed, equality between the sexes has been compared to the likes of Sweden and Switzerland. One minor difference, however, is that Saudi Arabia has successfully progressed while conserving its cultural heritage, with quaint traditions such as lashing women with spiked whips for secretively shaving their legs still common place.

The senior spokesman for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Nifaq El Feil, expanded on the historical development: "We have reached a point where we are no longer fighting for gender equality - we have now become pioneers of feminism, a true role model for countries across the Arab world and beyond."

The process of cycling will be as simple and straightforward as starting an independent newspaper. Any woman desiring to embrace the privilege will only need to visit the local council's sheikh with a mehrem (husband, father, brother, etc.) and fill out an application to take the "piety test" to ensure that cycling will not lead to improper practices. Depending on the result, she will be granted a permit to ride her bicycle in designated areas. Permit renewal is only necessary on a bi-monthly basis.

The decision has of course had its detractors. The small minority of religious extremists in the country are concerned that granting women substantial freedom in such little time would inevitably lead to unethical behavior, possibly even free thinking. Pamphlets issued by the opposition include images such as the one shown here to prove that positions taken and motions involved in riding a bicycle are inherently seductive. Another serious worry is that the obligatory abaya (traditional clothing) could get caught in gears or wheels, harming the women, but more significantly, exposing their bodies to the general public.

Mr. El Feil added that he knew such an unprecedented transition into the future was never going to be a smooth ride, but is confident of the results nonetheless. "Do you think Gandhi achieved peace in Sri Lanka in one day, or one year?" he rhetorically questioned. "It takes years of constant hard work, faith in God, and oil money."

Saudi Arabia has come a long way from the "ignorance" era prior to the arrival of Islam. It seems like a case of the turtle beating the hare as the entire Arab world is left under immense pressure to improve gender equality, with its neighbours, indeed much of the world, struggling to catch up.

Syed Asim Irshad

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 05:27

Allowing to ride a cycle does not mean taking off your cloths.

you could have placed a picture of women either japan,china, indonesia or malaysia riding a cycle. but since you are sick minded influenced by the dirty disgusting culture of united states your aim is only to portray a wrong image of islam.

May Allah have mercy on you

wardzeyada

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 12:24

Hi Sayed,

Thanks for the comment.

I'm not sure how you reached the conclusion that the article implies that by riding a bicycle, you'd be taking your clothes off. That's clearly not the message.

The article is meant to be humorous, perhaps you shouldn't approach it sensitively. A picture of women from Asia might've been funny as well, but we found this one just hilarious because we're obviously overly exaggerating.

Let me clarify, though, we're not making fun of Islam. We're criticizing the fundamentalist interpretation that the Saudi government has made of it, which has almost nothing to do with the religion itself. We're also attacking the gender inequality there, which is anything but Islamic.

You should lighten up and not get angry with these sort of things. After all, we are proud to be Egyptian and love our country. Our main aim is to make this world a better place, and it's very hard to improve if we're not willing to accept satirical criticism of our own societies.

And may Allah have mercy on us all.

Mo-ha-med

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 14:03

Ah, when it comes to bikes + 'improper practices', about 12 different comments pop into my mind... :)

And I can totally picture her riding in the streets of Riyadh, yep. I mean, with the sun there, she does need to have a homogeneous sun-tan, no?

Etch

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 14:15

Guys, PLEASE do not be dissuaded by no-humor comments and keep crossing those lines of political correctness, propriety and sanity :)

You are doing an AWESOME job!! Your sense of humor is exactly what makes Egyptians who they are :):) well that, koshary and road rage of course, although with the introduction of that new therapy, we'll have to think of another vice to complain of ;)

Cheers, keep it up!

Tee

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 19:06

I second the honorable Mr. Etch. Keep up the good work and booo to the naysayers. This is hilarious (and long overdue)!

Muslima in USA

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 20:23

The picture with the woman's butt hanging out is totally un-called for and degrading! What does what she has on have to do with riding a bike,subhallah!, Why does it have to be one extreme or the other, totally covered up or naked? You could have posted a picture of Muslimah's in many other countries where they are free to ride a bike with as much or as little Hijab as they want or even modestly. This is sooo typical, I think you all need to check yourselves! Please you need to evaluate how you represent to the world all Muslims are not this ignorant!

Amr

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 20:31

I agree with Muslima in the USA. I think all you guys are taking this too far. I mean if you want to write a satirical paper you should definitely keep it within the lines, otherwise you might upset people. I hear upsetting people is very bad.

Also in order to be more fair, I believe we should have a second picture of a woman in full niqab or burqa3 riding a bicycle. We should then have a vote, which one of these do you want to see on your street. I think we are in for a surprise.

We all know that western people have no ethics, live like animals, and are secretly planning to conquer the world (again!) and spend all their time trying to find ways to corrupt us and our religion. I think it is because they are jealous.

You guys really skipped Deen class in school, and that is the result. I think being a bit more closed minded could help you out, maybe if you try living in a cave for a month or two you would change your mind. I really can't believe there are people out there who still live in Jahiliya and think that a woman is only a hanging butt (really there is more to a woman).

Anonymous

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 21:23

Amr,

I'm sorry your comment is very judgemental and ignorant at best. How can you judge Westerners to live as animals with no ethics? From what I know, judging others is a sin in Islam and every other organized religion for that matter. Where were YOU in deen class??? There are good and bad all over the world. You should drop the holier than thou attitude because it doesn't look good on you! There are people in the Middle East who live like animals and have no ethics...and it has nothing to do with financial status either!

Regarding the picture, the majority of Westerners do not ride a bike dressed this way or go out in the street like this for that matter. In fact, most people I know who ride bikes dress quite modestly. The majority of Westerners dress very respectfully as well as treat others with respect and pay a lot of attention to being ethical.
Don't act like everything is perfect over here...every place has its own problems...and you'd be surprised about the stories I have heard come from here...that would shock anyone...Westerner or otherwise....Don't be so naive!

Amr

Thu, 10/29/2009 - 22:02

Dear Anonymous,

Why are you Annonymous? Oh! Is the Government reading this! Damn, am I going to jail now? Wouldn't be surprised.

I can tell you exactly where I was in Deen class, if your back is to the blackboard I would be sitting in the third table down, one table to your right. I got a solid 8/10 in my Deen final which makes me eligible to apply for Mufti Level positions, I just don't like to flaunt it.

I agree the holier than thou attitude doesn't look good on me, because the only thing that looks good on me ..... is you.

On a different note, it seems like you have been brainwashed by the Western propaganda, it is people like you who bring us backward. All you do is defend the West, you secretly want girls to be riding bikes like this (and so do I, but don't tell anyone!), yet you do not admit it. You are even afraid to tell us your name. Who are you? Inta mokhbir? Ana ma3maltish 7aga ya beik, ana baree2 bareeeee2.

Anonymous

Fri, 10/30/2009 - 14:32

i know u wont post this...
will everyone chill the f*** out!! its humor at its best!! enjoy the site for what it is!! i come to elkoshary.com to read some funny s***... not to judge and take things too seriously...
to the writers.. don't change a thing about ur site!!!

1 comment thought... do i seriously have to type "alanson $100-million" just to post my comment.. thats too much!! take some spam or make it easier.. cause it will make me think twice about posting!!

lepian

Sat, 10/31/2009 - 10:41

Hahaha this is too funny. I truly love your ever-so-satirical tone and how you combine facts. Don't get bother about people who don't understand the concept of the site and keep on kosharying!

Khali belako

storm

Sat, 10/31/2009 - 14:59

To muslima and amr, you both have a telephone pole up your butts. It could have been a picture of a bunny rabbit you still would have complained and started screaming jihad on everyone. STFU. Please go blow yourselves up somewhere.

There is no pleasing you and your ilk. This site is well written, funny and a breath of fresh air.

Let's try not to take a huge dump all over something good as is the habit of egyptians/muslims.

Amr

Sat, 10/31/2009 - 17:24

Hmmm... It really surprises me how people with an IQ less than a speed bump (see my blog post here: http://www.amrelbeleidy.com/2009/10/how-stupid-are-speed-bumps/) managed to use a mouse, not to even mention typing using a keyboard.

I will try to make it slightly simpler to see that I was being sarcastic, here are the hints below for the first comment, hopefully I won't need to do another one of these for the second comment:

Hint#1 : "if you want to write a satirical paper you should definitely keep it within the lines"

Hint#2 : "I hear upsetting people is very bad."

Hint#3 : "I believe we should have a second picture of a woman in full niqab or burqa3 riding a bicycle. We should then have a vote, which one of these do you want to see on your street"

Hint#4 : The whole third paragraph of my first comment

Hint#5 : You guys really skipped Deen class in school

Hint#6 : maybe if you try living in a cave for a month or two

Hopefully by the last hint you would have realised that you are stupid, and in fact if you believed that these were my true opinions and you still replied to me, then you should be wearing a helmet, really!

And by the way when I said that there was more to a woman than a butt, I was referring to her breasts!

Anonymous

Sun, 11/01/2009 - 02:03

the comments here have actually been terribly insightful.. from a simple article without much thought to its consequences other than hopefully a smile.. a whirl of debate has ensued. How typical! How representative of the state of confusion we are all embroiled in. And the fact that no one seems tolerant of anyone else's take be it sarcastic, offended or even "raging mania".. no one can stand to tolerate the "other".
This says a lot more about who we are now than a serious sociological article could ever accomplish. To the koshary team.. im sure this was unintentional.. keep it up. Simple intentions garner the most amazing results. To everyone else.. i know its difficult, but just relax!

Ah ya lalaly

Sun, 11/01/2009 - 14:57

Two cannibals eating a clown. One says to the other "Does this taste funny to you?"

Peace

TheEvilWestWinsAgain

Sun, 11/01/2009 - 22:40

I have a dream ....

I dream that one day the Egyptian educational system will teach the following concepts:

1.) Sex sells
2.) If it bleeds, it leads
3.) Don't believe everything you read and half of what you see

Until then, keep serving it up and ignore the ignorant.

Aurora Lights

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 12:12

Not to sound like a falsified prophet, but all of (you) affiliates of either the East or the West need to understand history a little clearer. Every epoch in history whether it was the World War of Cold War has brought with it foundations to restructure and prioritize, what exactly should be functional units of the state.. whether it be to go secular and leave religious spaces and lineage at home on on holy ground ( Mosques, Churches, Temples, your house). I think it's vile to see an intangible war between the 'evil west vs the radical east' and trust me it's not easy to mediate good ties since I happen to be a Muslim woman who is globetrotting on a mission to re-stabilize what the world knows of the true Islam rather than the radical- 'days of ignorance' teachings that most terrorist organizations are preaching..

If there's anyone to loath or hate.. i vouch for everyone when i say... in the past acquiring visas was not difficult but a process, now it's exceedingly difficult to travel wherever you want... on account of your name and Arab creed.. the West have grown apprehensive towards our culture.. because WE ( ARABS) are on the verge of a new genesis.. we either upgrade our mind sets.. and not put on our HALAL VS HARAM lens on ... and start to acquire a better sense of understanding of world events and yes.. the KEY WORD HUMOR !! life is not all grim and the quest for eternal piety.. life and Islam is not all waged by a woman's clothing or lack of it... let's become sages for once.. and deal with our definitions and broad expectations of Islam.. because I kid you not.. hate the Middle East first because flaunting your hatred against the West... We ought to fix our problems.. the suppression of women, the misunderstanding of radicalism verses the 5 pillars of Islam based on peace and serenity..... Muslims who can not take jokes lightly will find it difficult to withstand the new transformation our religion is now stemming into..

And i leave you with one thought... Why do Muslims hate the West.. is it America? Is it there secularism that has been working for them... forget economic crisis but as per se their GDPs never had problems.... The artificial Muslims who took our name and religion in name are those to hate.. not the West or expats who will continue to live their life as we live ours... Again the West had their interstate wars.. two super powers... at each others thoughts..

mmmm THE MUSLIMS are yet to have their full out interstate war.. and i suggest not to sound like Kofi Anan, that a total war between the West and the East is futile and costly..

amr

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 22:41

did you guys hear the latest news, Ahmed EZZ is monopolizing bicycle market in saudi arabia.

Amr

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 23:07

Interesting... they are made of steel after all. (To protect the women of course!)

mshmsh

Wed, 11/04/2009 - 01:12

god bless our countories

El Bob Elkbeeer

Wed, 11/04/2009 - 10:36

Wardzeyada nice article :)

Guys.. if it wasnt for that image i dont think anyone would have bothered to read the article... extreme contradiction wins.

Best remark here is from "Ah ya lalaly" very funny :D

Imbaba'n

Thu, 11/05/2009 - 03:08

This must be the funniest mock newspaper ever, Egypt's version of "The Onion News Daily".

And I don't think you could have found a better image for this article, when I saw it I simply fell of my chair laughing.

For the sake of this paper becoming even funnier, please pay NO attention to idiots who complain about such things as mocking Islam or this or that. Don't waste time explaining things like "sense of humor" to such readers, who clearly don't get it. Use you're time to write more articles!

be as offensive and shocking as necessary.

- a humble Imbaba bawwab.

harrie van kolck

Thu, 11/05/2009 - 08:24

Now i know why i run away from Egypt with a lot off small minded people who do not understand the meaning from the showed picture.
Lets put a picture from all the arabic man with sun glasses to hide for the people around how theylook at the woman on the streets.
Let me say this iff you have something nice to show do it and iff you dont have hide it under a kalabaja

Catherine

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 16:57

Keep on the good work. El Koshary is as necessary to Egypt as the pyramids.

AG

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 22:57

While i find this article crafty, witty and funny ... i wouldn't be very happy imagining how Saudis would feel reading it ... don't get me wrong .. i'm all for free speech and standing up for what you believe in ... but there's a difference between laughing with someone or laughing at someone ... i know many egyptians who wouldn't want to hear the way Saudis (ones who are peers to the writers of this article) would come back at us regarding Egypt ... be it from the corruption and self humiliation we're plagued with and have come to enjoy day by day like masochists ... or maybe with our many many foreign workers who go to saudi and kiss up to their kafeels, dress up like saudis and take with a saudi dialect ... or perhaps or perhaps ... one thing is criticizing actions and directions ... another thing is belittiling other people and their belief systems no matter how strange they might seem .... keep writing ... i enjoy what you write though i'm not with you on targeting and hurting others

meeee

Sun, 11/08/2009 - 23:38

Oh please, AG..
Who cares about the Saudis and how they feel?
Isn't it bad enough women are not allowed to drive there?? Isn't it degrading enough? That a full-grown mature woman is not allowed to step out of her house to buy her groceries on her own using a freaking "car"??
Why should I respect such a ridiculous notion on the grounds that "they" are "different" and we should be "tolerant"...
By this logic, I should respect FGM and honor killings. Hey..these people are different, we shouldn't hurt their feelings by smartly and quite funnily ridiculing these horrendous and most of all stupid "laws". They might notive how horrendous and stupid this all is...WE DON'T WANT THAT...that would be baaaaddd....

On another note, COOOOOOLLLL SITE! I love it!

bint-el-arab

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 07:17

hey all.. now o don't geddit.. r they saying that in places like e-sharqyiah they're allowing women to ride bikles or only on the gulf? like egypt, qatar, yemen and oman and stuff like that.. because i live in asharqiyah and had not heard of anything such as a bycicle ban- lift at all here... but hey, if they do mean asharqiyah then im savin my money to get me a bike :P :D

Hazem

Mon, 11/16/2009 - 01:04

For all this article's haters... if you think there is nothing hilarious about this article, then you certainly never lived there.

Maybe the overly revealing picture was un-called for.
But this is not the aim of the article. I hope for once egyptians could have a conversation without missing the point.

One miss chosen picture or word does not make the point false.

Person who shat himself laughing

Thu, 11/19/2009 - 01:05

personally i think they did push it too far...but THAT IS THE FUCKING POINT!!!

i think some people need to reanalyze their definition of satirical humor, and that the writers of el koshary have got it down really...

also i dont believe that the west is "evil" and is all bad. I'll agree that they do some things differently but i mean, let's all admit that they are ahead of us on many levels. I mean...women have rights over there!!! which something i feel us as arabs have completely abolished and forgotten about. We NEED to go back to traditional islam's teachings, which repeatedly tell us that women are EQUAL to us and SHOULD be educated. WHat our religion has become is utterly stupid. Honestly, we've turned our once most prosperous and respected religion into a religion that preaches TERRORISM, ANTI-FEMINISM, and something that rejects all which is not itself (including westernization). THIS IS BULLSHIT

Marianne

Thu, 11/19/2009 - 11:50

Well as a woman I love this article and wish I had the same butt to ride a bycicle, but I would have worn a black G-string!!!
Seriously, please have a ro7 reyadeya, and stop including religion and politics in verything, try to take things as they are... our country is turning to be a sick one!!! KEFAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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