Saudi women urged to challenge driving ban

Saudi activists have renewed their call on women in the Arab kingdom to get behind the wheels next month in defiance of the longstanding ban on female drivers in the country.

An online petition entitled “Oct 26th, driving for women” gathered more than 5,800 signatories on Sunday, as activists try again to lift the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.

Activist Nasima al-Sada said she will drive on October 26, adding that some 20 women are going to take part in the campaign in the Eastern Province.

“Many women are enthusiastic about learning to drive, or to teach other women how to drive,” she said.

“There is not a single text in the Sharia Islamic law that prevents us (from driving). Any pretexts used to do that are based on inherited customs,” the online petition read.

The last day of defiance against ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was on June, 17 2011, when few women answered a call to drive.

Police stopped some of the female drivers and forced them to sign a pledge not to take to the wheel again.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are prohibited from driving. The ban is not enforced by law but 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. In 2011, a Saudi woman was jailed after she posted a video of herself driving in the Saudi city of Khobar on YouTube.

The Saudi women are also barred from doing sports activities in public girls’ schools.

According to Kingdom’s Education Ministry, the schools can hold sports activities in accordance with the rules of Sharia law and students must adhere to “decent dress” codes.

Last year, Human Rights Watch called on the Saudi government to set a curriculum for physical education for girls and to launch a public outreach campaign about girls’ rights to physical education.

By Press TV


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