Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Race to Freedom

It’s only January 12, but this wins the award for cleverest human-rights campaign of 2011. The following comes from a petition put together by the organization CyberDissidents.org and is addressed to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah:

We would like to extend the opportunity to you to co-sponsor the First Annual Saudi Women’s Grand Prix. Many Saudi Internet activists have voiced their desire for equal rights between men and women and this initiative is a direct response to their pleas.

Saudi women from all walks of life will be invited to partake in the joys of race-car driving. We will live-stream video of this event on the Internet throughout the Middle East.

Hosting the First Annual Saudi Women’s Grand Prix in Riyadh would be a fitting symbol of Islamic tolerance and equality. Allowing women to drive in this Grand Prix will not undermine the fabric of Saudi society, but rather will be a small, incremental reform toward empowering females.

The Grand Prix can be held on March 10th to commemorate the fifteen Saudi girls who died on that day in 2002 as the Kingdom’s religious police blocked them from fleeing their burning school because they were not fully covered.

We look forward to your reply.

Don’t we all. The eclectic group of signatories includes Janet Guthrie, the first female driver in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, and former CIA director James Woolsey. The CyberDissidents website invites you to add your name to the list.

Lately, the Saudis have been making some noise about lifting the driving ban on women. But it will surely take public displays of outside pressure to move things to the tipping point. The Freedom Agenda may be dead at the White House, but Americans’ foundational pursuit of liberty for all will not be squelched by a spell of bad policy.