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Ear to the Ground

Saudi Women’s Fight to Drive Will Go On

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Posted on Oct 29, 2013
AP

A Saudi woman drives a car in Riyadh on Saturday.

What started out as a global “drive-in” to protest Saudi Arabia’s laws against women behind the wheel turned into a feat for the courageous few who dared to start up their engines and defy authorities. The campaign to have women all over the world join in on the national protest day “Women’s driving is a choice” was canceled due to threats from the government, but 60 brave women still took to the streets Saturday to show their support for the movement and drive, drive, drive. The Saudi government, refusing to be made a fool of, fined 16 of the women and compelled them to sign a “pledge to respect the kingdom’s laws.” According to RT News:

There were reports that women received threats from the Interior Ministry after the official warning that laws “will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate in support of this cause.”

On the day of the action, police stopped six women driving in Riyadh, and fined them 300 riyals each (about $80), the capital’s police deputy spokesman, Colonel Fawaz al-Miman told AFP….

Two women were also fined in Jeddah, police also fined them for driving, according to a police spokesman, Nawaf al-Bouq.

Six more women were stopped in Eastern Province, and other two in other parts of the kingdom, Saudi newspapers reported.

Those who escaped government censure have posted videos showing themselves driving on Twitter, although the official website of the campaign was hacked Saturday.

A black background with red thunder bolts and black skulls are still seen on the homepage screen of oct26driving.com, with English text at the top of the page reading “Hacked by G6RaaT Hacker ... Freedom for KSA.”

Saturdays Arabic text read, “Reason for the hacking: I am against women driving in the land of the two holy shrines,” according to Reuters.

These women will not be thwarted by a few fines and a hacker, however. Activists are encouraging women to continue driving and posting videos of themselves doing so on YouTube and social media. After all, according to some there is no official law forbidding women to drive, although they cannot apply for a driver’s license thanks to the government’s claiming that there is a ban in place “because it accords with the wishes of society in the conservative kingdom.”

Meanwhile, the hacked website is playing a viral satirical song by comedian Hisham Fageeh titled “No Woman, No Drive.”

To watch videos of women driving to places such as the hospital or simply taking a spin around their neighborhood, click here.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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