The arrest and interrogation of Manal Al-Shareef, an inexperienced advocate for Saudi women’s rights to be permitted to drive so they are able to take their children to school and save their lives in emergency situations, is not the reason for the Saudi authorities’ arbitrary invasion of her house and snatching her while sleeping with her child at 3 AM on May 21, 2011.
The Saudi regime’s daunting fear is deeper than women getting behind the wheel. The theocratic and autocratic ruling Saudi men are scared that their captive population, male and female, might break away from the grinding fears through which the regime has been able to crush people’s aspirations, to treat them as less than human beings and to control every aspect of people’s lives for decades since the founding of the state in 1932 and historically for centuries before that.
Like many human rights advocates before her, Ms. Al-Shareef will be severely physically abused and humiliated at the hands of the Saudi Interior Ministry’s hired mercenaries while in prison. This is done not only to silence her but also to send a message to anyone who dares question the Saudi regime’s absolute rule. Like her predecessors, she will come out of prison apologizing for crimes she never committed and praising the system for its wisdom and just governing practices. Welcome to Saudi Arabia in the twenty-first century.