Saudi women stun populace by driving

by Jorge Hernandez on June 17, 2011

Women in Saudi Arabia have long been banned from driving. The last time that any females challenged the law was in 1990, when 42 women drove through the city of Riyadh and were arrested for their efforts, according to Aljazeera

Now, that may be changing. A new campaign has been launched in an effort to get women to begin driving and not stop until a law is passed that makes it officially legal for females to be behind the wheel.

"[Driving is] a right for women that no law or religion bans … I went out to get my right, so that it would be up to me to drive or not," one driver, Maha al-Qahtani, told the news provider.

Activist Wajeha al-Huwaidar has tried to fan the flames by posting video clips of her driving from 2008 and encouraging women with driving licenses from other countries to get on the road. Just last month, one 32-year-old woman was detained for 10 days for posting videos of herself driving. Saudi authorities only released her after she pledged not to drive or speak publicly.

The campaign could come to a head soon enough, as the government must decide whether to ally with strictly conservative Islamic groups who support the males-only driving rules or implement a massive reform that could anger many.

Clerics justify the legislation by arguing that allowing women to drive could spread vice throughout the city, because they would be able to easily visit male strangers, the news source reports.

Thus far, the Facebook page for Women2Drive, the driving campaign, has wracked up thousands of Likes and international support from around the globe – ranging from Sweden to Uganda to Canada. There are multiple pages for the group. Others sport nearly 30,000 Likes. 

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