Two days after she posted a YouTube video of herself defying Saudi's Arabia's ban on women driving, Manal al-Sharif was arrested by police on Sunday, imprisoned for five days, and charged with "spurring women to drive, on the Internet, and inciting public opinion," Sharif's lawyer tells AFP today. The computer security consultant, who works at the state-run oil company Saudi Aramco, was first arrested on Saturday by religious and traffic police while driving in the eastern city of Khobar but released when she signed a pledge not to drive, according to the AP.
Sharif's lawyer explains that since the driving ban--the only one of its kind in the world--is based on a religious fatwa (edict) rather than a law, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, whose regime adheres to a strict Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam, ultimately has the power to decide whether women should drive. In a recent interview with CNN, Sharif explained that she once had to walk for half an hour in search of a cab. "I was harassed by every single car because it was late at night and I was walking alone," she said. "A 32-year-old grown woman, a mother, crying like a kid because I couldn't find anyone to bring me home."
When Sharif hasn't taken her campaign to the road, it's played out largely online. She's part of a group, Women2Drive, which is calling for women to get behind the wheel on June 17 in a nationwide protest. The group's Facebook page--entitled, "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself"--was deactivated by authorities after more than 12,000 people pledged their support, according to the AP, but Facebook pages have since spring up in solidarity with the cause. Similarly, the campaign's Twitter account is gone but a Free_Manal Twitter feed is going strong. A petition circulating online urges King Abdullah to release Sharif and issue a decision on women driving.
Sharif's original video also appears to have been taken down, but you can still see the footage below. In the video, Sharif argues that women must be able to take family members to the hospital, and that poor people can't afford the live-in drivers Saudi families often hire to comply with the ban.
Sharif isn't the first person to challenge the driving ban. AFP notes that another Saudi woman, Najla al-Hariri, drove in the western region of Jeddah recently in protest and, in 1990, 47 women drove around Riyadh in 15 cars before being arrested. Many of the women were suspended from their public sector jobs, AFP explains, and their male guardians were punished. In this video from 2008, Saudi activist Wajiha Huwaidar, who spearheaded a petition to King Abdullah much like the one circulating today, explains why she's driving around on International Women's Day:
Why is the campaign against the driving ban gaining momentum again now?The Telegraph's Richard Spencer says King Abdullah has actually encouraged women to study and work, opened Saudi Arabia's first co-ed university, and appointed a female minister since assuming power in 2004, and that's spurred a "small but growing band of middle-class professional women" to agitate for more reform. He adds, though, that lifting the driving ban "seems as far away as ever."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
If the president and his aides will tell easily disproven falsehoods about crowd sizes and speeches, what else will they be willing to dissemble about?
One of the many things that is remarkable about the Trump administration is its devotion, even in its first days, to a particular variety of pointless falsehood.
Mendacity among politicians and the spokespeople hired to spin for them runs across eras and aisles, though it is true that some are more honest than others, and Donald Trump was a historically dishonest presidential candidate. But the Trump administration has displayed a commitment to needlessly lying that is confounding to even the most cynical observers of American politics.
Popular demonstrations can bring change and topple governments. They can also spark retaliation from those in power.
The signs were so clever.
“We shall overcomb.”
“Viva la vulva.”
“I MAKE THE BEST SIGNS I REALLY DO EVERYONE SAYS SO THEY’RE TERRIFIC.”
Someone even made a papier-mâché vagina dentata.
The people were so cheerful and happy to be with one another, forgetting the cold and enjoying what often seemed less like a protest and more like a block party. There were families there, with grandmas in wheelchairs and babies in strollers. They were ecstatic and in disbelief at the number of people. TheWashington Post reported that the organizers put the attendance at up to half a million. They had hoped for less than half that.
It was surreal how similar this all felt, and my Russian friends on social media confirmed it: “Totally Bolotnaya,” one of them wrote. Bolotnaya is the square in the center of Moscow, right across the river from the Kremlin, where on December 10, 2011 around 50,000 people came out to protest fraudulent parliamentary elections. They had expected 3,000 and were stunned by their success. It was cold and gray that day, too, and the feeling of being in that joyous crowd was unforgettable, which is why I remembered it so vividly today. It is the giddiness of watching people vent their political frustrations with a sense of humor and good cheer, and the euphoria of observing people discover that they are not alone, that there are thousands and thousands of people just like them.
In his first official White House briefing, Sean Spicer blasted journalists for “deliberately false reporting,” and made categorical claims about crowd-size at odds with the available evidence.
In his first appearance in the White House briefing room since President Trump’s inauguration, Press Secretary Sean Spicer delivered an indignant statement Saturday night condemning the media’s coverage of the inauguration crowd size, and accusing the press of “deliberately false reporting.”
Standing next to a video screen that showed the crowd from President Trump’s vantage point, Spicer insisted that media outlets had “intentionally framed” their photographs to minimize its size. After attacking journalists for sharing unofficial crowd-size estimates—“no one had numbers,” he said—he proceeded to offer a categorical claim of his own. “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” he said, visibly outraged. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might shape his possible presidency.
In 2006, Donald Trump made plans to purchase the Menie Estate, near Aberdeen, Scotland, aiming to convert the dunes and grassland into a luxury golf resort. He and the estate’s owner, Tom Griffin, sat down to discuss the transaction at the Cock & Bull restaurant. Griffin recalls that Trump was a hard-nosed negotiator, reluctant to give in on even the tiniest details. But, as Michael D’Antonio writes in his recent biography of Trump, Never Enough, Griffin’s most vivid recollection of the evening pertains to the theatrics. It was as if the golden-haired guest sitting across the table were an actor playing a part on the London stage.
“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.
Images of today’s marches in Washington, New York, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and from other cities in England, Ghana, France, Canada, Serbia, Australia, Kenya, Germany, India, and many more.
In Washington, DC, today, hundreds of thousands of protesters filled the streets in a demonstration called the Women’s March on DC, while even more marched in cities across the United States and around the world, one day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Larger-than-expected crowds of women and their allies raised their voices against the new administration, and in support of women's rights, health issues, equality, diversity and inclusion. Below are images of today’s marches in Washington, New York, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and from other cities in England, Ghana, France, Canada, Serbia, Australia, Kenya, Germany, India, and many more.
Driven by opportunism, pragmatism, or fear, many begin to forget that they used to think certain things were unacceptable.
In The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz tells a story about a man who ventures out in the immediate aftermath of the fall of a regime. Papers full of state secrets lie in the streets, their knowledge less important for the moment than that of where to find something to eat. A little boy plays in a bombed-out street, whistling a song about the leader. “The song remains, but the leader of yesterday is already part of an extinct past.”
When authoritarians fall from power, even if they are secretly mourned, they must be publicly forgotten. Yet they remain as traces within the bodies of their people. The muscle memory to salute, to sing their songs, to fear their wrath, can be hard to shake. My years of studying Mussolini and his two-decade long regime have taught me not to underestimate the individual and collective work of disentanglement that comes with the ruler’s fall from power.
Most presidents view inaugural addresses as a rare opportunity to appeal beyond “the base.” This was base-only.
For my sins, I have read every U.S. presidential inaugural address ever given, and played a small part in writing one of them—Jimmy Carter’s, delivered 40 years ago today.
The first one I remember hearing, John F. Kennedy’s in 1961, I saw on a fuzzy black-and-white TV from my 7th-grade American history classroom in California. The arctic conditions that day in Washington practically radiated through the TV screen. I remember seeing the revered 87-year-old poet Robert Frost hunch against the wind and squint in the low-sun glare as he tried to read the special inaugural ode he had composed. Then Richard Nixon, just defeated by Kennedy in a hair’s-breadth race, reached across to block the glare with his top hat. Frost waved him off and began reciting from memory one of his best-known poems, “The Gift Outright.” [Update: Other images suggest it could have been VP Lyndon Johnson who was offering Frost the hat. I didn’t really notice at the time; whoever it was, the lasting image was of Frost’s struggling with his script and then beginning to recite.]
The Women’s March on Washington was a protest that also, in its own way, marked a peaceful transition of power.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— In the middle of the National Mall, on the same spot that had, the day before, hosted the revelers who had come out for the inauguration of Donald Trump, a crowd of people protesting the new presidency spontaneously formed themselves into a circle. They grasped hands. They invited others in. “Join our circle!” one woman shouted, merrily, to a small group of passersby. They obliged. The expanse—a small spot of emptiness in a space otherwise teeming with people—got steadily larger, until it spanned nearly 100 feet across. If you happened to be flying directly above the Mall during the early afternoon of January 21, as the Women’s March on Washington was in full swing, you would have seen a throng of people—about half a million of them, according to the most recent estimates—punctuated, in the middle, by an ad-hoc little bullseye.
A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next
In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st, and the president had spent many of the previous weeks, as he would spend the two subsequent weeks, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Things were looking up. Polls in the crucial states of Virginia and Pennsylvania showed Clinton with solid advantages. The formidable GOP strongholds of Georgia and Texas were said to be under threat. The moment seemed to buoy Obama. He had been light on his feet in these last few weeks, cracking jokes at the expense of Republican opponents and laughing off hecklers. At a rally in Orlando on October 28, he greeted a student who would be introducing him by dancing toward her and then noting that the song playing over the loudspeakers—the Gap Band’s “Outstanding”—was older than she was.
Untangling the different figures and factions, from the Klan to the alt-right.
Donald Trump’s election to the presidency has elevated a set of radical groups, generally understood to be on the extreme right of the American political spectrum, to their greatest prominence in the modern era. Some mainstream publications have struggled to describe these disparate groups, especially those that openly espouse racism.
To help understand the distinctions and relationships between these groups, here’s a brief taxonomy.
White supremacists and white nationalists
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are genuine ideological differences between them. White supremacists believe that people of European descent are biologically and culturally superior to people from non-European regions. In multiracial societies like the United States, they espouse a racial hierarchy in which white people enjoy a privileged status.