Saudi authorities warn of punishment for women drivers

By REUTERS
October 24, 2013 18:09
1 minute read.

 
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RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry has contacted organizers of a campaign to end the ban on women driving and told them they will be punished if they go on defying the male-only road rules, some of the campaign leaders said on Thursday.

The women organizing the campaign have been posting online footage of themselves driving in Saudi cities, and have called on Saudi women with foreign driving licenses to get behind the wheel on Saturday.

The campaigners hope to take advantage of the ambiguous nature of the kingdom's ban on women driving, which is not explicitly enshrined in either the kingdom's Islamic sharia law or its traffic code.

Saudi Arabia frequently earns bad international publicity over the issue, but any change in the effective ban on women driving might ignite the wrath of religious hardliners.

On Wednesday the Interior Ministry issued a statement reiterating that it was illegal for women to drive, but the authorities now appear to be stepping up their efforts to quash the campaign by individually contacting women involved.

"He said he was calling on behalf of (Interior Minister) Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and that I and any other woman should not drive and if we are caught we will be punished," said one of the campaign organizers.

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