Woman Jailed for Driving in Saudi Arabia Is Now Running for Office

'I want to make a point; it's a personal thing now'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2015 5:05 PM CST
Loujain al-Hathloul, who was imprisoned in 2014 after live-streaming herself breaking Saudi Arabia's law against female drivers, is now running for local office.    (AP Photo/Loujain al-Hathloul, File)

(Newser) – What a difference a year makes. In 2014, activist Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested for purposefully violating Saudi Arabia's law against women driving, the Washington Post reports. This weekend, Saudis will be able to cast a vote for her. Al-Hathloul received international fame when she live-streamed herself behind the wheel. After her arrest, she was forced to wait in her car overnight before being sentenced in a Saudi terrorism court, according to the Independent. She spent 73 days in jail. Saturday marks the first time women will be able to vote and run for office in Saudi Arabia, the Post reports. Al-Hathloul threw her hat into the ring for municipal council, but Saudi officials banned her from running. No explanation was given.

Those same officials reversed that decision Wednesday—again no explanation was given—and al-Hathloul will appear on the ballot, the Independent reports. According to the Post, al-Hathloul credits her constant interviews and lobbying for the government's turnaround. "Basically, I annoyed them," she says. "I guess it worked." Al-Hathloul says she was originally running just to boost the number of female candidates—more than 900 of the nearly 7,000 candidates on Saturday's ballot are women—but then the government tried to stop her. "The goal has changed," she says. "I want to make a point. It's a personal thing now." While not under the purview of a municipal council member, al-Hathloul is still dedicated to repealing Saudi Arabia's ban on female drivers, the Independent reports.

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