Saudi King Abddullah bin Abdul-Aziz revoked a 10-lash sentence for a woman who broke the Saudi ban on female driving in the conservative Muslim country.
The press was alerted to the King's decision by a tweet from a Saudi princess on Wednesday, who said "Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled.Thanks to our beloved King. I'm sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am."
Saudi woman arrested for challenging driving ban
According to AFP, Sheima Jastaniah received the sentence at a court in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after being caught driving in July.
The sentence came on the heels of an announcement by King Abdullah that the country would now allow women to vote in national elections be appointed to the country's Shoura Councils. Some female activists have said that this reform is a step in the right direction, and that the removal of the driver's ban should be next in line.
In May, a female activist was arrested
in Saudi Arabia after she launched a
campaign challenging the ban on women drivers in the kingdom, posting a
YouTube clip of herself behind the wheel and criticizing the
restriction. The video went viral, and has received nearly 800,000 views since it was posted.
Since her campaign, a number of women have been detained for taking to the road in the kingdom.
In June, five activists were reportedly arrested
in Jeddah, the same
city where Jastaniah received her lashing sentence, and six in Riyadh
the nation's capital.
Female driving in Saudi Arabia is not itself an illegal act, but the state does not issue licenses to women, and religious authorities have said that female driving is haram
- or forbidden.
According to to religious scholars, female
driving involves uncovering the face, may lead women to leave the house
more often, may cause females to interact with "non-Mahram" men -
men she could potentially marry - and may erode the value of gender