Driving in support of human rights?

Last week, many community members addressed the importance of supporting equal rights, in reference to gay rights (for example, see our coverage of the pride parade and of Rabbi Shira Stutman’s sermon in support of gay marriage).

I would like to tackle the issue of women’s rights today, June 17, a day that many Saudi women have declared a day of driving.  Tired of draconian laws that prohibit them from voting, consorting with unrelated males, or even operating a vehicle, many women in Saudi Arabia have decided to take to the streets… after first getting behind the wheel.

David Keyes, a fellow Jew who serves as the executive director of Advancing Human Rights and co-founded CyberDissidents.org, examines today’s protest more in depth in an article at the Daily Beast.  He has been encouraging just such an effort for months.  In January of this year, he sent a petition to Saudi King Abdullah calling on him to endorse a Women’s Grand Prix in his country.

If you think all-female car race in Saudi Arabia sounds surreal, then you understood his objective perfectly.  Keyes, who previously worked with former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, wants to highlight the absurdity of gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia today.  And he’s not the only one.  Many well-known names in DC are on board as well.

“A car race for women in a country which enslaves women may seem humorous to some, but my co-signatories are a distinctly unfunny group,” Keyes writes.  “They include former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, former CIA head R. James Woolsey, former Congressman Peter Deutsch, and former ambassador to the European Union Kristen Silverberg.”

To sign his petition, click here.