Saudi Women Defy Driving Ban in Coordinated Protest
(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — Women in Saudi Arabia took to the streets Saturday in a coordinated campaign against the country’s restrictive driving policies, defying a ban on women drivers in the conservative kingdom.
Organizers of a campaign against Saudi policies that bar women from obtaining driver’s licenses had encouraged Saudi women to climb behind the wheel and post videos and photographs of their forays onto the streets.
“There’s no progress in the issue so we’re hoping this time is different,” an organizer said. “We’re hoping this time is going to work and it’s going to have the authorities give us our right to drive.”
In the run-up to Saturday’s day of action, Saudi authorities had warned women not to violate the ban.
But despite the pressure, some women still hit the streets. The Oct. 26 campaign released videos it said showed women driving in Saudi Arabia.
In previous weeks, the campaign garnered support for a petition supporting women’s right to drive.
Women are denied licenses to drive one protest organizer said, though the laws are ambiguous.
“There’s nothing clear about it,” the organizer said. “No clear law. No clear punishment so the message is not clear and that’s why we’re fighting for it.”
Friday, one user uploaded a video that he said showed him teaching his mother to drive.
Opposition to women driving runs high in Saudi Arabia, where a mix of conservative Islamic ideology combined with local traditions has resulted in restrictions on women’s civil liberties.
The campaign’s official website appeared to have been hacked Saturday. “I am against women driving,” a message posted on the site read.
But organizers running the campaign’s official Twitter account said the campaign would continue past Saturday.
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