Saudi Arabian Women’s Rights Speech at Oslo Freedom Forum

Manal al-Sharif is a Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist who helped instigate the Women2Drive campaign, as women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. Over 100 women partook in the campaign last June 17th.  Al-Sharif herself has been arrested on a few occasions for driving.

In the above video from the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum, she discusses how she came to lose her religious extremism because of the Internet and how 9/11 changed her view on the world in which she had been raised. Al-Sharif was born during the year of the fundamentalist Sunni riots in Saudi Arabia which came about as a response to the relatively liberal government that was in place at the time. Al-Sharif chronicles the change of the position of women from 1979 to the present and the taboos that began to unfold around her and her family. Women began to lose the freedoms that they had gained before the riots, but after her realization and opening up to different points of view, al-Sharif is now fighting for those rights today.

Are there any particularly powerful moments during the video that you like? Leave the time stamp in the comments!

(Thanks to ihedenius for the link!)

About Kelley Freeman

Kelley is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is a former president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina and a former intern for both SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief. Kelley is also a board member for both Camp Quest South Carolina and the Carolinas Secular Association, a Volunteer Network Coordinator for the southeastern region for the SSA, runs a vlog series called Secular Start Up, sometimes does stand up comedy and can crochet like a fiend. She's on her way to becoming a Jane of All Trades. Follow her on twitter @ramenneedles

  • Fsq

    This is great, and wonderful and that is sincere, but why is this here at an athesit blog? There is very little actual connection in the blog post itself to tie this to atheism.

    So again, why is this here?

    And go ahead, start with the name calling about misogynist and the like, which is a bald face lie and false. I maintain this seems very out of place here.

    • Renshia

       Nobody gives a shit about what you maintain. The real question is why are you here? Why do you always whine and complain? Do you own this blog? who are you to say why any of the chosen content is here.

      Let’s just put this to bed once and for all. Shit like this is here because the owner of the blog wants it here. That’s the only rule, just because it says friendly atheist, doesn’t mean the owner can’t put anything he wants on here, it is his blog.

      So contribute to the conversation or shut the fuck up, no one cares what you maintain.

    • M J Shepherd

      From the second paragraph: “[...] she discusses how she came to lose her religious extremism because of
      the Internet and how 9/11 changed her view on the world in which she had
      been raised.”

      Is that not enough? Or does every post here have to scream ATHEIST ISSUES for it to be relevant?

      At the very least, fighting for equality for half the population when they’re oppressed by institutionalized religious law should do it for the rest of us.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      Religion is very much related to the oppression of women. Are you against religion? Are you against the oppression of women? The answer to both of those is probably yes, so why do you have a problem with this?
      This is something atheists should support because it works to help those who have been oppressed by religion.
      I really can’t figure out why you don’t think it relates to atheism.

      Obviously you don’t find feminist issues very interesting, but not every post here is supposed to cater to your interests. There’s plenty of posts that I’m not particularly interested in, so I don’t read/watch those, but I also don’t post annoying comments on them. I’m not gay, but I don’t go around asking what’s relevant about gay rights. 

    • EivindKjorstad

       She talks about how religious conservatives abuse human rights, and how especially women suffer under this. 100% on topic, and infact a much more important issue than, for example, some random banner with “our heavenly father” on it in some American school or other.

    • Dea

      the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia is driven by religious ideology and fundamentalism. Oppression by religion is something I, as an atheist and a woman, gets angry about. And I think that there are two ways to promote atheism – by talking about atheism on one hand and talking about the damage that religion does on the other. This is woman who is breaking free of that oppression and does so at a great personal cost – and while she may not have left that religion completely behind her, I think we can celebrate her journey as she questions the religious-based status quo in her country. I have not problem seeing the connection here.

  • Fsq

    Oh, and for Kelley the OP…previet….

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Wow. This video very much falls into the “so-what-have- you- done- with- your- life category”. Manal al-Sharif is very impressive. 

  • Troy

    This is a very interesting topic, one that is especially pertinent given the time we live in. There is no doubt that globalization strikes at the very heart of some state’s affairs and beliefs. But the interesting part is when people feel the need to change their views, to look and see that there might be another way. Is this no different to any religion asking people to ‘just take a look at what we offer, it’s different to all the others’? Religion has a lot to answer for in the instance of male domination and the rights (or lack of) of females. Someone needs to write a book where all the ‘GODS’ are female, where the men are persecuted for driving, for speaking to females, for showing bare skin in public, for stirring the emotions of hard working females.

    • M.

      Also in that book, hoofed animals chase the canines, small fish kills the large, and weak bully the strong! 

  • Josh

    I don’t know. Maybe because it’s fighting another type of religious persecution? 
    No that couldn’t be it, I’ll try again.

    Perhaps because social issues are social issues, and many (most?) of us actually care about how our fellow human beings are treated, regardless of what their gender/orientation/beliefs happen to be, and see the oppression of anyone as something to fight against?

    I bet that’s not it either.

    Clearly it was just posted here by mistake.

    • Josh

      This was in reply to Fsq but clearly I’m a failure at using the Internet.

  • TheAnalogKid

    Jesus fucking Christ. More pissing and moaning about the content. Isn’t the title of the blog The Friendly Atheist? Not Friendly Atheism? It’s a blog by an atheist. He can blog what he wants. Allow whatever posts by others that he wants. 

  • Jean1

    I would just like, for once, that religious riots would result in MEN’S behavior being restricted.  But no.  It is really always about power, not virtue.

  • Renshia

    Sounds of reason coming out of the darkest places. This is how we help the children in Afghanistan.  Through education. Sooner or later old people die, we just need to ensure as they die there are fewer radical believers to replace them and that comes from education.

    Islam wants to conquer the world. They never thought they would be defeated by reason and rational thought.

    I hope we can succeed. But damn, they breed like rabbits (I mean all religions). We might just be screwed, anyways. Has anyone done the math on that? So hears the question. How many religious people would it take to destroy the earth? and At the rate they are multiplying now how long have we got?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Ochin xorosho.  Ee proignorirooitye koz.


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