Saudi Women Drive Cars in Small-Scale Protest

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 26 2013 2:22 PM

Saudi Women Drive Cars in Small-Scale Protest

185625377
Saudi activist Manal Al Sharif, who now lives in Dubai, drives her car in the Gulf Emirate city on October 22, 2013, as she campagins in solidarity with Saudi women

Photo by MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

A small group of women got behind the wheel Saturday. Sounds innocuous enough until you realize this happened in Saudi Arabia, where women are effectively banned from driving. Campaigners said more than 60 women across the country claimed to have driven Saturday, according to the Associated Press. But that number seems impossible to verify. Most wrote text messages and e-mails to organizers reporting that they drove, although a few posted videos of themselves driving.

It does seem that some who were planning on getting behind the wheel Saturday were scared off by government officials warnings of arrest and prosecution, notes Reuters. Mosques also called on women to stay home Saturday and there were reports of additional checkpoints in some parts of the Saudi capital. There is no law that explicitly bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia but the government has long refused to give them licenses.

Advertisement

The campaign to get Saudi Arabia to change its policy on women drivers has been going on for decades and has made little progress. And those who have defied convention in the past often faced dire consequences, including being detained, fired from their jobs and banned from travel, notes the Wall Street Journal. A judge even sentenced a female driver to flogging in 2011, although the sentence was never enforced. The women spearheading the campaign now are optimistic that as more Saudis spend time abroad their views will change. Still, they took pains to emphasize they weren’t trying to start a revolution and said only women who had driver’s licenses from abroad should get behind the wheel.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.