Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah last week fired an ultraconservative 81-year-old adviser, because he publicly criticized Saudi reforms aimed at improving the living conditions of women.
The straw that broke the camel's back was the adviser's assertion -- on a local radio station -- that by giving women more rights, Saudi officials were, in effect, Westernizing and secularizing Saudi Arabia's laws and Islamic traditions by "legalizing taboos."
We believe that Saudi King Abdullah acted correctly in firing this adviser.
The fact is that Saudi Arabia -- due primarily to it being the birthplace of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed in the city of Mecca -- has remained the most conservative Islamic country in the world.
Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia needs to make some changes in Islamic traditions -- especially by ending some of the restrictions that it imposes upon its women.
King Abdullah has been criticized by several hardline Islamists for granting Saudi women additional rights in recent years. These Islamists insist, for example, that women cannot leave their homes, unless their husbands give them permission to do so. This traditional Islamic rule -- and similar rules -- are really unreasonable and anachronistic in today's society, and need to be put to rest.
Saudi Arabia is also the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive motor vehicles. A woman caught driving a car in Saudi Arabia could receive 25 or more lashes for doing so.
Based upon King Abdullah's efforts to gradually grant women additional rights in Saudi Arabia, we can expect women to be given the right to drive there within the next five years.
King Abdullah has already said that women will be allowed to vote and run for public office -- beginning with the elections in 2015 -- and that is a good harbinger for the rights of Saudi women.
Indeed, women will be granted many more rights in Saudi Arabia -- as they should be -- in the near future. Achieving these rights will require time and patience, but this phenomenon will inevitably occur.
We can better understand the intricate process required for achieving women's rights in an extremely religiously-conservative Saudi Arabia by relating this process to an old saying: Rome wasn't built in a day!