Dozens of Saudi Women Drive Cars in Protest

Organizers say they've gotten videos and phone messages, though confirmation is tricky
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 26, 2013 9:43 AM CDT
In this image made from video, a Saudi woman drives a vehicle in Riyadh today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Saudi activists said more than 60 women claimed to have answered their call today to get behind the wheel in a rare show of defiance against a ban on female driving in the ultraconservative kingdom. Saudi professor and campaigner Aziza Youssef said the group has received 13 videos and another 50 phone messages from women showing or claiming they had driven. She said they have no way to verify the messages. If the numbers are accurate, this year's campaign is the most successful effort yet by Saudi women demanding the right to drive. Youssef said they have not received any reports of arrests or women being ticketed by police.

An anonymous security official said that authorities did not arrest or fine any female drivers today. Though no specific Saudi law bans women from driving, women are not issued licenses. They mostly rely on drivers or male relatives to move around. Powerful clerics who hold far-reaching influence over the monarchy enforce the driving ban, warning that breaking it will spread "licentiousness." One such cleric caused a stir when he said last month that medical studies show that driving a car harms a woman's ovaries. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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