Sunday, May 13, 2012

Manal al-Sharif - Oslo Freedom Forum 2012



I've written several posts about Manal al-Sharif, the young Saudi mother who was arrested and jailed last year because she dared to defy the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. I am pleased to post this video of Manal speaking at the 4th annual Oslo Freedom Forum, which was held in Norway May 7th throught May 9th, 2012.

Manal's 17 minute speech at the forum follows historical events in Saudi Arabia since 1979, the year of her birth. She talks about how these events paralleled her own story of how she evolved from being a brainwashed, indoctrinated extremist into a brave female freedom fighter struggling for Saudi women's rights and dignity. Believing the propaganda, that she was just one of the invisible women of Saudi Arabia, she says, "We were voiceless, we were faceless, and we were nameless."

The change for Manal happened in the year 2000 with the introduction of the internet, which opened up the doors to the outside world for many in her generation of brainwashed youth. She began to question the narrow views she had been taught all her life - about music, about religion, and her phobias about being exposed to the decadence and evils of the West.

It is a very powerful and fascinating speech. I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to this young woman who has become a symbol for the women's rights movement in Saudi Arabia.

17 comments:

  1. Excellent!

    I truly hope this woman continues to stand strong and set an example of freedom.

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    1. Hi Gaelyn - I don't think there's any stopping her now, after what she has been through.

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    2. Actually, according to this article she HAS stopped. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/10/world/meast/sharif-saudi-women-drive/index.html I was very disappointed in this woman that I was once proud of. How can she continue to be an inspiration to others if she herself quits because her child gets teased at school?

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    3. Lynn - You have misread or misunderstood whatever you read in the article. It does NOT say that Manal is giving up her fight because her son got teased at school. In fact, she is being honored with another award now and will continue to fight for equality and women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

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    4. 'Al-Sharif is so concerned about her family's safety that she doesn't plan to drive on June 17. "That would endanger my family, not only me."

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    5. 'Her biggest problems now concern her son, who is 6.

      "The kids in the school, they harass him and bully him because they know I'm his mom," she said.'

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    6. Lynn - Just because she isn't planning on driving on June 17 doesn't mean she is quitting. You should understand what this has done to her life and to her family's. If she feels it would be too dangerous for her to participate on June 17, she is in a better position to determine that than we are. You don't know what she has had to deal with through all of this.

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    7. I'm just saying that I am disappointed. How is she supposed to encourage others to fight for their rights if she isn't willing to do it herself? I'm sure that everyone could come up with very good reasons not to disrupt their lives or the lives of their family members but where would that leave the movement?

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  2. Inspiring. Courageous. Honest. Riveting.

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  3. Wow...That's an amazing presentation! I was in Riyadh at the time and remember Manal's arrest and, to the everlasting shame of the government, I remember the ridiculous "confession" that came out attached to her name as the price of here release from jail. I remember thinking the statement was amongst the most ham-handed pieces of obvious fakery that I'd ever seen and felt sorry that Manal's name had to be associated with it. And I also remember thinking that the timing was specifically designed to squash the "day of women driving." That proved to be the case as only 100 women dared to come out. Yet at the same time, the fact that ANYone came out, and the fact that the Saudi authorities declined to make arrests ironically makes the day a success. Imagine the uproar among the fathers, brothers, uncles and husbands if these women were to be put in jail en-masse.

    It's easy to look back on the injustices of history and think "Well, I wouldn't have been that way if I were there." It's a lot tougher to put yourself, your reputation, your name, your face on the line when half of your society wants you to feel shameful.

    Manal is my hero.

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    1. Thanks, Veeds. She has conducted herself with dignity in spite of harsh fanatical critics who do not want change for KSA's women. Manal is a great role model and hero.

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  4. Wonderful video; thanks for sharing, Susie. Manal continues to inspire so many Saudi women. She's a strong voice standing firmly in the middle of a lot of controversy. Her talk really demonstrates Saudi Arabia's development and I learned a lot about the country's history! KSA has developed so much in the past decade, and I truly believe it's only a matter of time before women can drive; or, as Manal advocates, before women here have the broader freedom that being allowed to drive would facilitate.

    Keep up the wonderful work on your blog! I love visiting :)

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  5. Many Saudi men hate to admit that they gave women so little in order to grow .There is a fact that both men and women suffer in this unbalanced situation.There is a win /win situation that few seem to observe.If my wife can drive then I don't have to worry about getting a driver , a stranger in my own home .If she uncovers her face then I don't have to worry about harsh segregation rules that exist which makes life here so unnatural compared to the rest of the world . People here talk but many seem don't wanna listen.

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  6. Susi, what was your experience of the day the women drove? Did you know any women who did drive? Also I kinda figure expat women would not help by driving as it could be seen as "those heretical expats ignoring our rules." Maybe you posted on this before and I missed it.

    Annie

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  7. It's about time that they wake up from the trash indoctrination about how women should be viewed in society in general. Women are not property they are people as much as sentient beings as men are and they should be treated with the same courtesy and respect.

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  8. Thank you so much for posting this!! Truly inspiring for things we take for granted while she's fighting for the rights in her country.sf

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