DUBAI - Saudi Arabia's government sought to snuff out a campaign to end a ban on women driving, warning on Wednesday it would use force to stop any protest aimed at overturning the ban.
Saudi women's rights activists posted online photographs and video clips of themselves defying the ban this month after some members of the Shoura Council, an influential body that advises the government, called for an end to the prohibition.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, but debate about the ban, once confined to the private sphere and social media, is spreading to public forums too.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said calls on social media for "banned gatherings and marches" to encourage women to drive were illegal.
"The Interior Ministry confirms to all that the concerned authorities will enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force," the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
There is no specific law that prevents women from driving in the conservative kingdom but they cannot apply for driving licenses and some have been arrested on charges relating to public order or political protest after getting behind the wheel.