The Two-Way
8:51 am
Fri June 17, 2011

Saudi Women Get Behind The Wheel, Renew Protest Of Driving Ban

We're starting to see reports on Twitter about today's #Women2Drive campaign against Saudi Arabia's cultural ban on women drivers.

-- From Jeddah, Laila Sindi says that after 10 minutes behind the wheel she came to a police checkpoint. Her tweets indicate she was detained for a couple hours.

-- But, "interestingly enough no men noticed me driving," writes Amnah Fakieh, also from Jeddah. "I'm kind of disappointed ..."

-- "My wife, Maha, and I have just come from a 45-minute drive, she was the driver through Riyadh streets. #saudi #women2drive #WomenRights," says Mohammad Al-Qahtani, co-founder and president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

-- Author Tawfiq Alsaif says the drive with his wife went "just fine, some people looked surprised, others were smiling."

The Guardian is doing some live-blogging of the news. Correspondent Jason Burke says from Riyadh that "police have been told to take a softly-softly approach, which reflects the fact that many Saudi royals are sympathetic to the women's demands."

As Ahmed Al Omran has reported for us, "in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, women are subject to a male guardianship system, which requires they show proof of permission from their guardian — father, brother or husband — to travel, work, or sometimes receive medical treatment at a hospital."

One of the higher profile women who have pushed for the right to drive, Manal al-Sharif, has been compared to American civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

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