Last Updated: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:52 am (KSA) 07:52 am (GMT)

Dina Al-Shibeeb: How about honor killing, women drivers and the revolutions?

Women have been active participants in anti-government protests that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. (File Photo)
Women have been active participants in anti-government protests that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. (File Photo)

“Degage,” a loaf of bread, “Go Out,” tanks, soldiers, police, Muammar Qaddafi’s comical YouTubes are the main features, words one can mutter to reflect on the main symbols of the Arab Revolutions.

But are there clear slogans, symbols showcasing intricate details of freedoms?

In Jordan maybe the picture of a protester carrying a loaf of bread says more truth and factuality of the country’s woes than a Bahraini demonstrator carrying one of the most remembered red-sign slogans calling for no more political naturalization of non-Bahraini Sunnis.

Despite the honesty of people’s expression of their woes and ordeals, there are after all clear symbols missing that can signal that the current revolutions are not wholesome and all inclusive of the political, social, economic freedoms needed for Middle East and North Africa.

There is of course no vivid picture seared in the memory of the Arab psyche of at least one concerned male, even female, carrying a slogan slamming the practice of honor killing?

On Thursday women from around the Arab world gathered in Jordan’s capital Amman, warning that religious fundamentalists pose the biggest threats to the region’s nascent women’s rights movement.

According to a news report from The Associated Press, the women activists hailing from highly and politically-charged countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, said freedoms gained after mass protests were being undermined by calls to impose Islamic law at the expense of women’s rights.

Such warnings can be read as exaggerated and as envisaging a monstrous, hegemonic Islamic mogul, but such concerns and suspicions are still valid, after all it is tribal conservative and Islamists that block King Abdullah of Jordan’s bill to criminalize honor killing.

The women activists have also denounced virginity tests imposed by Egypt’s military on protesters and called for quotas for women lawmakers.

There is a stale sense of unchanged status quo of women’s rights in the Arab World despite the revolutions.

But away with negativity, the Arab Revolutions might have enhanced and boosted the confidence of the masses including women’s. It is honorable to draw the brave Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, as example. Her courage to go on and drive behind her four wheels in the conservative kingdom has catalyzed more women to be more audacious, bold and confident of their demand to drive the four wheels.

Despite their arrest, it is more than surreal to read about six Saudi women to re-activate Ms. Sharif’s drive attempt. While the women ages 20-31 were caught, and detained at a Riyadh police station, these women are among the catalysts of the Arab Revolution and are clearly making history.

Maybe the words reflecting the Arab Revolutions can also incorporate some “car,” “ban,” at least marginally on the sidelines….

(Dina Al-Shibeeb, a journalist, can be reached at:

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