Saudi women kick off campaign against driving ban


Saudi women have braved a ban on female driving in the kingdom, kicking off a campaign against the protested prohibition.

More than 60 women staged the act of defiance on Saturday, standing up to warnings by police and ultraconservatives, with an online video allegedly showing a 32 year-old mother driving in Riyadh.

The campaign’s website was launched in September. Since then, women have been posting videos almost daily of themselves driving.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The medieval ban is a religious fatwa imposed by the country’s Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged.

Supporters of the ban say allowing women to drive will threaten public morality and encourage them to mix freely in public.

In 2011, dozens of women took part in a similar campaign, dubbed Women2Drive, challenging the ban. They posted on internet social networks pictures and videos of themselves while driving.

In 1991, authorities stopped 47 women who got behind the wheel in a demonstration against the driving ban. After being arrested, many were further punished by being banned from travel and suspended from their workplaces.