Saudi women move against driving ban

Saudi women move against driving ban

Female rights activists in Saudi Arabia have posted on the internet photos and videos of themselves behind the wheel, a move against the ban on women driving in the kingdom.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The photographs and footage, which appeared online on Thursday, showed various Saudi women driving in the streets of the capital, Riyadh.

A Saudi activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the move was part of a two-stage campaign against the ban on female driving. In the next stage, women with international driving licenses would be asked to drive on October 26.

“To drive with a license should not be against the law,” she said, adding, “The authorities, the country, how people think has changed.

The campaign was launched after Saudi Arabia’s Shura Consultative Council rejected a joint request made by three of its female members to discuss lifting the ban on women driving.

The council’s decision came despite increasing reports of women behind the wheel in defiance of the ban.

Later in October, Saudi activists plan to stage a nationwide protest against the ban.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The medieval ban is not enforced by law but is a religious fatwa imposed by the country’s Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged.

Supporters of the ban say allowing women to drive will threaten public morality and encourage them to mix freely in public.

In 2011, dozens of women took part in a similar campaign, dubbed Women 2 Drive, challenging the ban. They posted pictures and videos of themselves while driving on internet social networks.

Police briefly detained some of the female drivers; two women also faced charges. They were freed, however, after being forced to sign a pledge not to defy the ban again.

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