A demonstration with women driving cars to protest Saudi Arabia's law prohibiting women from driving has been met with a Faceback campaign asking men to whip the female drivers, several outlets reported today.
The Facebook campaign called "The Iqal Campaign: June 17 for preventing women from driving," is a page in Arabic that calls for men to use the iqal, or thick cord from the traditional headdress worn by many men in the Gulf region, to beat women found driving on that day of protest, according to Agence France Presse. According to one screen shot, there were more than 6,000 "Likes."
The campaign comes in response to a planned June 17 protest by Saudi women who will drive their cars in defiance of the kingdom's ban. The action has also been spurred by the imprisonment of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman arrested for driving. Pages in favor of al-Sharif and Saudi women driving have also sprouted up on Facebook.
Several prominent male Saudi journalists and novelists have also lent support to women driving and expressed dismay at the Iqal Campaign. Facebook removed the page Wednesday for "violating our standards against threats of violence," a spokeswoman told Press:Here. “Specifically, we're sensitive to content that includes pornography, harassment of private individuals, direct statements of hate against protected groups of people, and actionable threats of violence."
While the campaign's Facebook page seems to have disappeared from view, there's still a cached view here.
Like any country, Saudi Arabia has its whackjobs, and one proposing to whip women for driving is similar to those in the United States advocating burning the Koran or that Jesus hates gays. However, in a place where religious police have as much authority as actual law enforcement, these kinds of pages and sentiments can have more serious consequences.