Saudi Women Continue To Push For The Right To Drive
Although Saturday's (Oct. 26) planned protest was partially thwarted by a heavy police presence, activists are encouraging women to continue driving -- and to post the proof online -- in defiance of culturally-imposed restrictions.
After dozens of women drivers turned out on Saudi Arabia’s roads on Saturday (Oct. 26) in the largest-to-date protest of a culturally-imposed ban, the activists behind the movement say they are encouraging them and others to continue driving and to post the evidence online in images and/or videos. In the capital of Riyadh, police put up roadblocks and increased the number of traffic patrols in an attempt to thwart the protest, yet Azza al-Shamasi chose to drive her son to and from a hospital the next day “and nobody stopped me. For sure I will drive every day doing my normal tasks.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Technically there is no law on the books that explicitly prohibits women from driving in Saudi Arabia. However, the ban is one of many that come down from the country’s religious authority, which is funded by the Saud ruling family. Although the head of that family, King Abdullah, has tried to institute some reforms, he has been met with resistance from clergy members. While some of those clerics staged a counter-protest last week, a group of male comedians posted a video on YouTube that supported the driving campaign.