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Yes, what you just read is true. Women are banned to practice their simple right which is “driving” in Saudi Arabia. What a continuous outrageous situation for Saudi women!

Manal Al-Shareef- 32 years of age- is the Saudi female who was jailed for driving her car in the Eastern province “Al-Khober” in Saudi Arabia. Driving is the simple right granted to all qualified citizens all over the world, so why Saudi women are deprived from that right?

Since Saudi Arabia is governing under Al-Sharia law, Islam doesn’t ban women driving whatsoever. Moreover, Islam gives women all the rights to live independently. On the contrary, Islam bans any individual to be with the opposite sex “who is not related” totally alone. So, why women are with their MALE drivers alone? This is an obvious infringement to Al-Sharia law in which Saudi authorities claim to follow (hypocrisy).

Safety & Security are other issues concerning hiring strangers “drivers”. Instead of moms taking their kids to schools, they are left alone with absolute strangers. Sometimes, kids go shopping or to theme parks with their drivers alone. There is no decisive law against sexual harassments, kidnaps or rapes caused by drivers as police stations have numbers of unresolved cases nationwide. Also, there is no insurance covers the damages caused by drivers- basically Saudi women pay for accidents and damages caused by drivers. Imagine you are paying for someone’s mistakes!

Saudi Arabia is a country with no public transportation such as metros or buses, only high taxicab fares which is not affordable by the majority of Saudi women. The population of Saudi Arabia is 26,131,703 of which 11,807,804 are women (CIA World Factbook). The number of working women in the country, who can afford drivers and cab fares, relatively speaking, is estimated at 10.25% of the overall workforce, according to a report by the United Nations. So, not every woman can afford a driver; add this to the fact of lacking transportation options. Why a rich country like Saudi Arabia has no public transportation?

Roughly, working women take the same amount of travel allowance as working men take, the allowance ranges based on the basic salary. Both pay for gas, service and so one. But, in addition to that, women pay drivers’ salaries, housing and meals. Drivers take nearly SR 1300 to 2000 ~ $ 346 to 533 p/m (housing is not included here). Moreover, there is no law in the country imposes that travel allowance granted to female employees must include drivers’ pay. Are Saudi women richer than Saudi men? Of course not! Where is the social justice?

Is Saudi Arabia really striving for civilization based on equality between its citizens? Do we need social reform to acknowledge women’s rights? I will leave the answers for you…

In the United States social media tools have impacted presidential campaigns since the Presidential Election in 2000. Philip Howard points out on his book New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen that after the election in 2000, exit polls showed that “a third of the electorate had used the internet to learn about the campaigns. After the 2004 election, surveys revealed that over half the electorate had gone online to get news or information about the campaigns.” According to Howard, Tim Vickey from George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, stated that he saw this type of work as “improving the quality of democratic deliberation” (pp 45). It is also argued that communication technology could be used to promote democratic value by making information available to the public, which can be done easily through the different social media tools available now. In addition in the book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, the author, Joe Trippi takes the reader throughout the changes that social media tools had made in political campaigns in the United States. Trippi states that what Barack Obama and his campaign achieved in 2008 “qualifies as yet another quantum leap in campaigning, in the use of the Internet, and in our democratic history.” Social media tools have brought to the United States a sense of true democracy in which the people have a voice. Now it’s not a one way communication as it was before, today is a two way communication where people can talk, share, organize, and mobilize politically.

In other democratic countries, social media tools have started to make an impact as well. Chile in South America and Egypt in the Middle East (part of the African Continent) are using some of these tools as part of their democratic right. However, due to political and cultural history, these tools are not being used with the same purpose as in the United States.

Digital Democracy in Chile & Egypt

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Digital Democracy

Throughout this course, I have learned about the impact of digital media on democracy and vice versa. The influence of Digital Democracy is vast; it influences e-commerce, marketing and social media. In this class, determination of political outlines and how politics is implemented in DM were considered such as political blogs and forums/ websites, political advertising, news sites and more recently open source software news sites.

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Information Society

Indeed, it is very ironic that people live in the age of information abundance, yet some lack crucial knowledge, as indicated in “Are People Better Informed in the Information Society” reading. Many researchers have been done and proved that people now know as much as before or maybe less; two experts in public opinion and political behavior find that many citizens are remarkably informed about the details of politics, while equally large numbers are nearly ignorant of political facts. (Carpini, 1997). But the question here is, why lacking information is a big issue?

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Information Abundance

A while ago, I noticed that many Americans don’t grasp solid information about international politics. Oddly enough, many Americans are ignorant towards local or national politics.

When I first read the question “Are People Better Informed in the Information Society”, I thought that I know the answer, not really. While reading, I came across two opposite views, Wade Roush affirms that the society is informed due to the existence of technology; more technologies equal better services.

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People of Change

Yesterday was the most exciting political experience of my life. I witnessed something different, something I’ve always longed for–change.  The United States of America has proven to the world that it is different from any other nation. I have always known the U.S. to be a multicultural country; yet I’ve also been cognizant of the fact that power has rested mainly with the white majority. Not anymore.  Today the United States is a country where the presidency is accessible by individuals of all races, cultures and beliefs.

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