News / Middle East

    Saudi Government Tries to Thwart Women's Driving Campaign

    A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia on October 22, 2013.  Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, but debate about the ban is growing.
    A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia on October 22, 2013. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, but debate about the ban is growing.
    Reuters
    Saudi Arabia's government sought to snuff out a campaign to end a ban on women driving, warning on Wednesday it would use force to stop any protest aimed at overturning the ban.
     
    Saudi women's rights activists posted online photographs and video clips of themselves defying the ban this month after some members of the Shoura Council, an influential body that advises the government, called for an end to the prohibition.
     
    Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, but debate about the ban, once confined to the private sphere and social media, is spreading to public forums too.
     
    The Saudi Interior Ministry said calls on social media for “banned gatherings and marches” to encourage women to drive were illegal.
     
    “The Interior Ministry confirms to all that the concerned authorities will enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force,” the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
     
    There is no specific law that prevents women from driving in the conservative kingdom, but they cannot apply for driving licenses and some have been arrested on charges relating to public order or political protest after getting behind the wheel.
     
    The “October 26 Driving” campaign has asked Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel that day, while urging other women to learn to drive.
     
    Conservative supporters of the ban, including members of Saudi Arabia's powerful clerical establishment, have said allowing women to drive will encourage the sexes to mix freely in public and thus threaten public morality.
     
    On Tuesday, Saudi news website www.sabq.org said that 200 Muslim clerics and preachers had visited the royal court in the Red Sea city of Jeddah to make a case against women driving.
     
    “We came to the guardian (King Abdullah) to clarify the seriousness of this period,” Sabq quoted Sheik Nasser bin Salman al-Omar, secretary-general of the League of Muslim Scholars, as saying.
     
    “If those behind the conspiracy of women driving approach the house from the back, the sheikhs wanted to come through the front doors,” he added.

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    Comments
         
    by: hi man from: nigeria
    October 24, 2013 8:58 AM
    i am fore seeing a revolution in saudi arabia, one day all the oppression against women in the country will stop.

    by: Hanoi girl from: Vietnam
    October 24, 2013 2:10 AM
    Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US, is an uncivilized country where women's rights are limited.

    by: hassan bala from: abeokuta nigeria
    October 23, 2013 6:20 PM
    just allow women, the advantages are plenty
    In Response

    by: Nafji Fatina from: Avondale AZ USA
    October 23, 2013 8:13 PM
    Please think simple way Mother will bring the child from school in case of emergency. School buses are there but think emergency if father is out of state for business. Child became sick , mother will take to hospital or bring the medicine. Child wants to participate after school activities like sports voluntary job. certain things are there , like ladies school, college, university, bank, but child's demand is important in 21 century. If mullas objection is young will meet very freely . How many % girls married out of family, they meet. Doha, Kuwait ,UAE, Muscat are not faraway for mingle . Plan ticket is $200.00 Think oppositely, please give the right to women to exist.

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