Historic Moment for Saudi Arabia as Women vote as Polls Open

Voting for the first time
Voting for the first time

Image Source: Associated Press

It’s a big moment for women in Saudi Arabia as they go out to vote for the very first time at the election polls on Saturday. This is the first time women voters and candidates are allowed to be a part of the electoral system of the country. Men and women were allotted separate spaces to vote as the country follows a strict segregation policy based on gender.

As many as 900 women are contesting for seats on municipal councils, which is the only public elected chamber against 6000 men who are contesting for 284 councils to local affairs which include powers and responsibilities for the street, public gardens, waste disposal and so on.

For the Saudi women, this election becomes more than about winning. Amal Badreldin al-Sawari, a 60 year old a paediatrician in central Riyadh contesting in the elections told Telegraph, “To tell you the truth, I’m not running to win; I think I have done the winning by running.”

According to the election commission data, about 119,000 women, out of a total native Saudi population of almost 21 million were registered to vote but a huge fraction of women faced a lot of problems with respect to procedures and verification hindering the entire voting process. Women have complained of difficulties such as that of proving their identity and residency and also about having limited number of registration centres, as told to Human Rights Watch.

This opportunity given to Saudi women is just one step forward towards the rights a Saudi woman can exercise. They continue to face restrictions in various things in their battle for freedom. Some resections include the ban on driving, work, marry or travel without the consent of a male family member, appear in public without covering herself or mingle with unrelated men in public places such as a restaurant.

Sources: The TelegraphCNNyahoo.com

Saudi women cast their first votes

Saudi Arabian women are being offered free lifts to polling stations by the online taxi-hailing service Uber, on Saturday. This is said to be an attempt to empower Saudi women and boost their participation at the first elections of the orthodox Islamic country, where women are being allowed to vote.

This service comes as a joint venture between Saudi women’s empowerment group, Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women and US-based tech company Uber, as extended initiative to a campaign by Al-Nahda to help carve gender equality in the conservative state.

Logo of online car-sharing app Uber, on a smartphone. Source: Business Times
Logo of online car-sharing app Uber, on a smartphone.
Source: Business Times

This comes as a fresh gush of development after the declaration allowing women of Saudi Arabia to vote and contest in local elections for the first time, which is being viewed as a baby-step to the larger establishment of gender equality in a country where women are still not legally allowed to drive.

The campaign engulfed various other aspects, such as mobilizing 120 women as election trainers to encourage and spread the word about the registrations, and publicizing through media, etc.

Rasha Alturki ,Al-Nahda’s Chief Executive said to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, “ Uber has proved popular with women in the wealthy desert state to get around amid limited public transportation and general unease about the safety of taxis”. She added, “We needed to play a role because we found this really empowering to women.With regards to Uber itself … it’s good for our cause because it helps women get out and vote.”

Except for Vatican City where male cardinals vote for the election of the Pope, Saudi Arabia has been the last nation in the world to allow women to vote. It is also the only country at present to legally bar women from driving, and demanding dependence and permission from a ‘male’ guardian for working, traveling, marrying, and for undergoing any medical proceedings.

The election is held for 284 municipal commissions comprising of over 900 women registered as candidates. As per the rules, the female candidates will be charged a fine if spotted speaking to male voters, and they are to cast ballots at separate voting centers, from men.

According to the reports by Human Rights Watch till November 29, 979 were women out 6,917 registered candidates for Saturday’s election. Furthermore, in an online briefing the New York-based watchdog reported that the women voters make up less than 10 per cent of the voting pool.

Arab Allied Forces Captured Yemeni Red sea-islands from Houthis, Saleh

Source: http://yemenflag.facts.co/yemenflagof/yemenflag.php
The Yemen Flag

Image Source: Yemen Flag Facts

 

Saudi led allied forces have seized a Yemeni Red Sea archipelago controlled and used by Iran-allied forces. These islands were used to smuggle and store weapons into Yemen.

This coalition has been trying to capture this archipelago since September 2014. Houthis controls most of the former northern Yemen from Tiaz in the south to Saada in the north which gives then clear access to the coast. The main objective behind seizing these islands was to dislodge the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Another reason being, to restore Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

Fishermen informed Reuters by that the islands had been exposed to weeks of heavy bombing by Arab forces before being seized.

The archipelago was the subject of territorial dispute between Yemen and Eritrea, which captured the archipelago in the 1990s, until a London-based international arbitration court granted Yemen sovereignty in 1998.

Sources: Reuters

Two Indian nationals in Saudi Arabia for terror links

Two Indians, identified as Abu Sufiyan alias Asadullah Khan and Zainul Abideen alias Zahid Sheikh, have been detained in Saudi Arabia for alleged terrorist activities in India. They are expected to be deported to India in the course of a few weeks.

Sufiyan is suspected to have been involved in planning terrorists in meetings held in Riyadh in 2011-12. Few other youths from Bangalore have already been arrested for suspected participation in these conspiracy meetings and links with Lashkar-e-Taiba. The case is currently under investigation by the National Investigation Agency. Sufiyan is only one of the many accused who are allegedly absconding in Saudi Arabia. He hails from Hyderabad.

Abideen’s name came up earlier this year in an ongoing investigation under the Bangalore police about the Indian Mujahideen’s ammunition supply chain. He is suspected to have obtained the explosives that cause the German Bakery blast in Pune and passed them to Syed Afaque, suspected to be the head supplier in the chain.

Sufiyan was arrested in Saudi Arabia eight months ago but the delay in his deportation was caused due to paperwork. Abideen was detained 20 days ago and is expected to be deported to India within a week.

 

Saudi men need Government’s consent to marry foreigners

Photo Courtesy – taraummomar.wordpress.com

Riyadh: Saudi men now need the government’s official approval in case they want to marry foreign brides. In situations where their love interests happen to be women expatriates from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar or  African country – Chad, they cannot marry them as it has been banned. The women population of these four countries is 5,00,000 and there has been no specific reason given as to why they are on the “do not marry” list.

According to the new stringent rules, the formalities for marrying foreigners have also been toughened, says the Mecca police chief, General Assaf al-Qurashi. As per the new rules, grooms should be above 25 years of age in order to apply to marry a foreign bride, divorced for 6 months or more in case of a remarriage. If the groom already has one spouse, who is “either disabled, suffering from a chronic disease, or sterile”, then he should have  some proof to back his claim.

Saudi men are allowed up to four wives in accordance to the Islamic Law. The country has always been condemned for their displeasing rules towards women.

Read more at: http://www.malaysiandigest.com/world/512148-saudi-men-need-permission-to-marry-foreigners.html