Last March, Saudi authorities stated that half the seats in the municipal council in the next September 2011 run would be elected, rather than selected by the monarch himself as usual. But when they implemented elections, they neglected to include women’s votes. When asked why, the kingdom’s electoral commission mentioned it was because of logistic-related difficulties in sex-segregated election stations, the same reason that was previously used back in 2005. Almost six years have passed and nothing has changed, proving only that logistic-related difficulties are only an excuse for not making changes.
“Women will not participate in this session,” Abdul- Rahman al-Dahmash, director of the kingdom’s electoral commission, said referring to the municipal balloting. “There is a plan, though not with a definite time, to put in place a framework so that women can participate in upcoming elections.”
Saudi women are not shutting up this time! Activists decided to create their own municipal council to cast their votes, and a whole online campaign called “Baladi” (“My country”) has been lunched and widely spread—it’s gathered 2,000 members in a short period of time. The campaign is solely run by women from different parts of Saudi Arabia:
We will never give up, and we will not stop our campaigning,” said Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi whose is a human rights activist and a history lecturer at King Saud University in Riyadh. [sic]
When two young women made attempts to register to vote, they were subjected by some locals to a broad spectrum of insults, ranging from “unoriginal/impure Saudis” to “attention seekers” to “whores”. They were told “to stay home and raise kids,” and in some cases thought to warrant legal prosecution.