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Social Issues
Saudi Women Take To The Roads To Protest The Kingdom’s (De-Facto) Driving Ban
October 26, 2013
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Despite warnings from authorities, it appears that some women in Saudi Arabia have gone forward with today's planned protest against the country's de-facto ban on female drivers, CBC News reports.

The campaign encouraging women to drive en masse today first went live in September, attracting thousands of signatures to an online petition. And earlier this month, the movement gained support from female members of the country's influential Shura Council, who put forward a motion demanding that the Transport Ministry make preparations to allow women to drive.

But in the days leading up to the October 26 protest, officials reiterated their position that women should not engage in the demonstration, with the interior minister warning that they would likely face punishment. Badawi Al Rasheed, a Saudi academic and expert on women's rights, told CBC, "We have heard there are counter campaigns to actually drive the women away from the streets, either by harming them or by crashing their cars."

Despite these warnings, it appears that at least 60 women have defied the authorities. About a dozen videos, including the one above, have appeared on the the campaign's @oct26driving Twitter feed today, although it's not possible to verify when they were filmed.

May Al Sawyan, one of the protestors who drove in today's demonstration, told the Associated Press, "I am very happy and proud that there was no reaction against me. There were some cars that drove by. They were surprised, but it was just a glance. It is fine ... They are not used to seeing women driving here."

Meanwhile, the campaign's official website appears to have been hacked by the protestors' opponents.

While Saudi Arabia doesn't have an outright ban on female drivers, authorities don't issue licenses to women, and female drivers are sometimes arrested for disrupting the peace when they get behind the wheel, especially in urban centres.

In response to the campaign, Saudi-born comedian Hisham Fageeh put together a satirical Bob Marley spoof called "No Woman, No Drive," which has quickly gone viral:


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