News / Middle East

Saudi Authorities Warn of Punishment for Women Drivers

Saudi Authorities Warn of Punishment for Women Driversi
X
October 25, 2013 4:49 AM
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry has warned women not to go ahead with a planned campaign Saturday to defy a ban on female drivers.

Video from VOA

Reuters
— Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry has contacted organizers of a campaign to end the ban on women driving and told them they will be punished if they go on defying the male-only road rules, some of the campaign leaders said on Thursday.

The women organizing the campaign have been posting online footage of themselves driving in Saudi cities, and have called on Saudi women with foreign driving licences to get behind the wheel on Saturday.

The campaigners hope to take advantage of the ambiguous nature of the kingdom's ban on women driving, which is not explicitly enshrined in neither the kingdom's Islamic sharia law nor its traffic code.

Saudi Arabia frequently earns bad international publicity over the issue, but any change in the effective ban on women driving might ignite the wrath of religious hardliners.

On Wednesday the Interior Ministry issued a statement reitering that it was illegal for women to drive, but the authorities now appear to be stepping up their efforts to quash the campaign by individually contacting women involved.

"He said he was calling on behalf of [Interior Minister] Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and that I and any other woman should not drive and if we are caught we will be punished,'' said one of the campaign organizers.

The woman said she now planned not to drive on Saturday, although she still supported the campaign and had previously filmed herself behind the wheel in the city.
      
Another woman involved in the campaign, who also asked to remain anonymous, said she still planned to go ahead.

The Interior Ministry telephone calls follow a small protest by a group of conservative clerics demanding government action against the women. One of them, Sheikh Nasser al-Omar, described the campaign as a "conspiracy''.

A ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached to confirm that the body had contacted the women.

Women who have driven in the past have often been charged with the relatively minor offense of driving without a valid Saudi licence, which are not issued to women in the kingdom.

But some have also been charged with more serious offenses, such as disturbing public order or staging political protests, which are illegal in the absolute monarchy.

The campaigners say that by driving on Saturday they will not be staging a political protest, as they have not asked women to drive together in groups or to congregate in one place, even if they are in violation of traffic rules.

Stern warning

"The concerned authorities will enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force,'' said Wednesday's Interior Ministry statement.

The ministry's spokesman, Major-General Mansour Turki, told Reuters the statement applied to women driving individually as well as in groups and that it was not meant to refer only to Saturday, but to women driving at any time.

He said it also would apply to protests by groups opposed to women driving. Turki said the prosecution service would decide whether to charge women drivers with traffic violations or more serious offenses.

Officials have often in the past said the driving ban is in place because Saudi society wants it there. Supporters of Saturday's campaign say they want to show by driving without provoking public anger that society has changed.

They point to a recent move by some women in the kingdom's Shoura Council, a quasi-parliament appointed by the king to advise on policy, to challenge the ban, and to Saudi newspaper columns that argue women should be able to drive.

"The government now is in an odd position. They aren't against women driving and yet they're preventing women driving. It's very awkward to be in this position,'' said Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi political science professor and columnist for the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
November 06, 2013 3:03 AM
I guess when all of cruid oil is drawn out from the wells, women eventually would take over the job of king in Saudi Arabia and it would not take a long time. It is historically a general rule that women are smarter and more diligent than spoiled sons of rich people when economics get wrong. Thank you.


by: Rafael from: USA
October 31, 2013 11:29 PM
She ( wemen) in general should not only drive, but take off the burka, join a community of female against the male oppression,
forced marriage and reduce them to a baby makers only.


by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
October 26, 2013 3:03 AM
Islam does not prevent women from driving any vehicle. In Saudi Arabia there's no law or traffic rule which very explicitly bans women driving. The ban based only on antiquated customs, but I do agree that Islam, like Christians and Judaism, treat women as second class citizens.


by: Hasham Baquaa from: Saudi Arabia
October 25, 2013 12:15 PM
this silly move may undermine the Country authority and legitimacy... this could lead to a civil war at the worst time in the region history and lead Iran in control of the oil fields... do you want Iranian filthy theocracy to control the world life line of energy???
support Saudi Arabia and say - down down with Iran

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid