The Corner

For Saudi Women, One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

On the heels of an edict allowing women to “participate” in elections to powerless municipal councils and to be appointed to a toothless Shura council, today Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman, “Shema,” to 30 lashes for driving while female, the BBC is reporting.

Also on the topic of Saudi women, Gulf analyst Simon Henderson, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has an interesting story, “All the King’s Women,” at foreignpolicy.com. He quotes a diplomatic source as saying that the 88-year-old monarch is too sick to rule and “lucid for only a couple of hours a day.” He speculates that one of the king’s daughters is responsible for his decree on Sunday. Henderson notes that the king’s personal views on women are hardly modern and reveals he has long had a full Islamic complement of four wives, “two of whom were semi-permanent and the other two ‘rolled-over.’” In any event, like me, Henderson also doubts that the king will be around in four years to enforce the decree on women’s rights to participate in the municipal councils’ elections and that his likely successor, Wahhabi hardliner Prince Nayef, is unlikely to do so.

In light of today’s development, it becomes clearer just how clever a public relations move the women’s political rights decree was.

— Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and co-author, with Paul Marshall, of Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedoms Worldwide (Oxford University Press, November 2011).

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More