March 3, 2013 By

Saudi women demands right to drive

n-SAUDI-CAR-large570Saudi Arabia trussed for possible protests after women activists declared an “open driving campaign” against the kingdom’s ban on women behind the wheel. More than 60 women claimed to have answered their call to get behind the wheel in a rare show of defiance against a ban on female driving in the Salafi kingdom, according to Saudi activists. If the numbers are accurate, this year’s campaign is the most successful effort yet by Saudi women demanding the right to drive. “It is known that women in Saudi are banned from driving and laws will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate in support” of this cause, interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki said. The Interior Ministry on its website said: “While Saudi regulations ban any offence to social peace that opens the door to sedition, the Ministry of Interior emphasizes to all that authorities will follow the law decisively against violators.”

Activists have repeatedly insisted that no demonstrations will be held in the absolute monarchy, which officially bans public gatherings.
Amnesty International has denounced the threats, while Human Rights Watch called for an end to discrimination.

Said Boumedouha, Amnesty’s acting Middle East and North Africa program director, said Saudi authorities “continue to harass and intimidate women activists”.

“This has included phone call and online threats, arbitrary travel bans and detentions, forcing activists and their family members to sign pledges not to drive and using the state-controlled media to discredit activists.”

The UN Human Rights Council has also urged Saudi Arabia to end discrimination against women, among other rights abuses.

Over the past two weeks, videos posted online have shown women already driving in Saudi Arabia, but women who have defied the law in the past have run into trouble with the authorities.


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