Last Update 17:52
Friday, 15 November 2019

Saudi women cancel driving campaign to avoid prosecution

Activists pressing for an end to Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving have dropped plans to hold a 'drive-in' Saturday after threats of legal action against anyone getting behind the wheel

AFP , Saturday 26 Oct 2013
Saudi Arabia
Saudi braces for 'open driving campaign' by women ( Photo: Reuters)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1207
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1207

Saudi Arabia was braced for possible protests Saturday after women activists declared an "open driving campaign" against the deeply conservative kingdom's ban on women behind the wheel.

Activists had originally planned a "drive-in" Saturday but cancelled it after threats of legal action, instead declaring an open-ended campaign in the only country that forbids women from driving.

"Out of caution and respect for the interior ministry's warnings... we are asking women not to drive tomorrow and to change the initiative from an October 26 campaign to an open driving campaign," activist Najla al-Hariri told AFP Friday.

Several women said they had received telephone calls from the ministry, which warned of measures against activists who chose to participate and asked them to promise not to drive on Saturday.

"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, ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP

On Wednesday, the ministry said it would act against anyone who attempts to "disturb public peace" by congregating or marching "under the pretext of an alleged day of female driving".

In remarks to the Al-Hayat daily published Friday, Turki even warned against supporting the campaign online.

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 programme 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."

London-based Amnesty said "the ban and the ongoing scare tactics to maintain it are out of step with the modern world, and characteristic of the wider discrimination that crushes women's freedom and besmirches the kingdom's reputation".

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.

In 1990, authorities stopped 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban

In 2011, activist Manal al-Sharif, one of the organisers of Saturday's campaign, was arrested and held nine days for posting online a video of herself behind the wheel.

That year Saudi police arrested a number of women who defied the driving ban and forced them to sign a pledge not to drive again.

Saudi women are forced to cover from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.