Saudi Arabia Threatens to Use Force Against Women Drivers
Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has warned against “disturbing social peace” and has threatened to use force against a planned campaign by women to challenge a de facto ban on them driving, Al Arabiya reports.
“Regulations in Saudi Arabia prohibit any action that disturbs social peace and opens the door for sedition and responds to the illusions of prejudiced intruders with sick dreams,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
“The Interior Ministry confirms to all that the concerned authorities will enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force,” the statement added.
The warning also appeared to be directed at those calling through social media to stop women who are seen driving in the streets.
The “October 26 Driving” campaign has asked Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel that day, while urging other women to learn to drive, reports Al Arabiya.
The warning comes after a number of clerics and religious scholars protested in Jeddah, saying the authorities were doing nothing to stop women defying the ban, according to The Associated Press.
There is no specific law preventing women from driving in the kingdom, but they cannot apply for driving licenses.
Supporters of women driving say the ban is an extra cost for families who have to employ chauffeurs and add that it makes it difficult for women to perform basic daily tasks.
The Saudi Shura Council this month rejected a move by three female members to put the ban on women driving up for discussion.
The Council, which counts 30 women among its 150 members, said the issue was “irrelevant” to the discussions and “not within the transport ministry’s remit.”
A long-standing campaign aimed at getting the Saudi Arabian driving ban lifted has recently urged women to defy the ban.
Many women have driven since the campaign was launched in 2011, some of them have posted videos of them doing so, and many have been arrested and forced to sign a pledge that they will never drive again.
Last year, a Saudi women’s rights activist filed a lawsuit against the country’s interior ministry over the ban.
The driving ban is just one example of how Saudi Arabia violates human rights and discriminates against women.
This week, human rights group Amnesty International released a scathing report which levels harsh criticism against Saudi Arabia, accusing it of failing to live up to its pledge to improve human rights.
Ironically, Saudi Arabia last week refused a seat on the United Nations Security Council, citing the Council’s failure to act against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s crimes against humanity.