The increasing crime rate especially with the remarkable rise in the number of illegal manpower and the consequent frequency of armed burglaries drove Saudi girls to demand the right to carry weapons and get the necessary training to use them for self-defense.
“I call upon officials to establish training centers that teach girls shooting in summer vacations and over weekends,” said university student Nora al-Asmari.
For teacher Yusuf al-Baheesh, there is no problem if girls learn how to use guns in order to defend themselves.
“Women at the time of the Prophet used to take part in wars both as fighters and nurses,” he said.
Retired army officer Mohammed Zafer argues that shooting training centers should not be confined to women since men too need to learn the art of self-defense.
“Men from young generations do not know anything about the art of shooting and this is a skill that is recommended in Islam,” Zafer said.
Teacher Nadia al-Salem agreed with Zafer and said that many thefts take place because the victims are unable to defend themselves, especially when burglars break into their houses.
“If both men and women learn how to defend themselves, there will be a remarkable drop in the number of crimes we hear about all the time in the papers and in TV,” Salem noted.
Fatima al-Qassim, an 80-year-old widow, said she had learnt to use guns 60 years ago from her father and was also able to assemble and dismantle parts of the gun.
“I worked in herding and this necessitated carrying a weapon especially that I was on my own in the deserts and mountains, Qassim said.”
According to Ali al-Shamri, psychologist and member of the Social Protection Committee in Jeddah, it has become necessary to establish training centers that teach girls how to use weapons.
“This training will give the girl self-confidence and will reverse the stereotype that she is weak and unable to deffend herself,” he told the Saudi newspaper al-Sharq.
It is important, he added, that those centers focus on the use of weapons as an act of self-defense to be used in case of attacks only.
“Trainees have to learn that they should not infringe on other people’s rights and trainers should point out the difference between violence and self-defense.”
Shamri also recommended that girls learn other means of self-defense like martial arts.
“They should also acquire the mental skills needed to react to dangerous situations,” he said.
Askar al-Askar, researcher in Islamic affairs and counter-terrorism, said there is no contradiction between teaching girls self-defense and Islamic teachings.
“As long as the training does not violate Islamic laws and social norms and girls-only training centers are established, there is no problem,” he said.
Mohaya al-Suhaima, head of the Prisons Authority in the Medina region, said that carrying and using weapons is confined to men in Saudi Arabia.
“Even women who work in airports and prisons are only trained on basic first aid skills,” she said.
He added that there isn’t an established system that allows girls to learn shooting and argued that it is not as necessary in Saudi Arabia as it could be in other places.
“Our country is safe and we are not like other countries with high crime rates,” she added.