- Special Features
Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
Over 60 Saudi Arabian women took to the streets on Saturday to protest the country’s strict laws banning women from obtaining a driver’s license.
Numbers are verified by Activist Aziza Youssef and an anonymous source who have received 13 videos and 50 phone messages depicting women behind the wheel.
While women are technically allowed to drive, Saudi laws prohibit women from obtaining driver’s licenses. The laws in place stem from an extreme interpretation of Islamic doctrine, says The Washington Post.
Many analysts claim that the government is currently trying to balance slow reform with the sustained preservation of laws like these.
Karen Elliott House, author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines,” analyzes, “They try to constantly, like a tight rope walker, balance by tilting first toward the most rigid clerics and then toward modernizers to keep a balance in the kingdom,” quotes The Huffington Post.
Perhaps another indication of the government’s sympathy towards activists is the almost complete lack of arrests made on Saturday. Some women report receiving threatening phone calls or being followed by suspicious cars, but only one woman reported a police confrontation in which she was asked to sign a statement that she would not drive again.
Despite this, almost no reforms have been made to the Saudi Arabian system which requires male permission for women to travel, marry, or enroll in universities.
Activist Aziza Youssef told reporters, “We will continue driving and posting videos [...] The whole thing is raising awareness and making people get used to us driving as normal.”