Protest Calls on Women to Defy Law, Drive in Saudi Arabia

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 26 2013 7:46 PM

Protest Calls on Women to Defy Law, Drive in Saudi Arabia

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A Saudi man takes a picture of two women sitting in a car at the International Luxury Motor Show in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Photo by AMER HILABI/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi activists have launched a campaign calling for the lifting of Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving. The protest, Reuters reports, urges women to defy Saudi law and get behind the wheel and drive on October 26th.

As part of the campaign, an online petition, Oct 26 Driving, was started on Saturday and has collected some 11,000 signatures, according to CNN. “[T]here is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so,” the petition reads. “We as a Saudi people are diverse and accepting of all views that are not prohibited in the Quran or by the Prophet.”

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There are no explicit laws in the country banning women drivers, but the government does not issue driving licenses to women, making it, in effect, illegal for them to drive. The protest comes after two recent attempts to overturn the de facto ban on women drivers that proved unsuccessful, after authorities detained several women, who were made to sign pledges not to drive again, according to Reuters.

Last week, Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, the head of the Saudi morality police, told Reuters sharia law did not bar women from driving.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.