Saudi Women Demand Courts Hear Female Driving Case

A pair of Saudi women have demanded courts hear their suit against the Interior Ministry and give them driver's licenses.

Gabe Kahn.,

Saudi woman
Saudi woman
CC/Walter Callens

A pair of Saudi women are demanding courts take up their lawsuit demanding an end to Riyadh's de facto ban on female driving.

No laws prohibit women from driving, but conservative religious edicts have banned it and officials comply with those.

Manal Al Sherif said on Sunday that she and a fellow activist are urging judicial authorities to start proceedings on complaints they lodged after being refused driver's licenses.

Al Sherif says she filed her suit in November and it was transferred to the Interior Ministry where it has simply disappeared.

Al Sherif was detained for nearly two weeks in 2011 after posting an online video of herself driving. It helped launch wider protests against the ban.

Al Sherif finds herself in exalted company. Princess Ameerah al-Taweel, who has driven in countries the world over, also wants to be able to drive in her homeland of Saudi Arabia.

Ameera, who has an MBA from an American university and sits on the board of one of Saudi Arabia's human rights organizations, said the issue is much bigger than driving.

"It’s a question of the most basic rights," she told the Today show in 2011. She also hinted Saudi Arabia is about to experience a women's revolution. "You'll see a whole movement."

Saudi women were given the right to vote and to attend public soccer matches in 2011, but cannot drive themselves to do so.