Last Update 13:56
Thursday, 14 November 2019

Saudi writer who opposed ban on women driving held

Writer arrested for writing that extremists are intimidating people from exercising their right, throwing his support under women driving campaign in Saudi Arabia

AP , Wednesday 30 Oct 2013
Share/Bookmark
Views: 754
Share/Bookmark
Views: 754

Saudi authorities have detained a columnist who supported ending his country's ban on women driving, activists said Wednesday.

The activists, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said Tariq Al-Mubarak was called by investigators in the capital Riyadh concerning a stolen car over the weekend. When he arrived at the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Department on Sunday, he was interrogated instead about his role in a campaign launched by reformers seeking the right of women to drive in the kingdom.

When his friends were informed they could pick him up at the investigator's office, they too were detained for several hours and questioned over the campaign's activities, activists said.

Human Rights Watch and activists who know Al-Mubarak say he remains in detention with no access to a lawyer. The New York-based organization called for Al-Mubarak's immediate release and on authorities "to stop harassing and trying to intimidate activists and women who defied the driving ban."

The spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Mansour al-Turki, could not be reached for comment.

In a column published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat the day of his arrest, Al-Mubarak said extremists are intimidating people from exercising their rights. He said the courts in Saudi Arabia do not have sufficient provisions to deter those who threaten and terrorize others from exercising their freedoms because "rights and freedoms ... are not instilled in our culture, nor our interpretation of religion."

Al-Mubarak, who also works as a schoolteacher, was among a core group of active young Saudis calling for women's right to drive.

Around 60 women claimed they got behind the wheel Saturday to oppose the ban. The campaign sparked protest by the kingdom's ultraconservative religious establishment.

The reformers behind the Oct. 26 driving campaign say their efforts are ongoing and that they continue to receive videos by women filming themselves flouting the driving ban.

The activists told The Associated Press that they have been followed for the past several days and are anticipating arrest. They have put in place contingency plans and emergency numbers for journalists and rights organizations to call in case they are detained.

At least two women have been fined recently by police for driving, the activists said. Samia El-Moslimany said she was given a nearly $135 fine for driving in the kingdom, though she has a U.S. driver's license.

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.