British PM welcomes Saudi decision on driving

Emmett Rice
September 28, 2017

According to Saudi leaders, the decision was to make right the ultra-conservative country's worldwide reputation, damaged largely by oppressive theocracy such as the draconian ban on women driving. Those who defied the ruling by driving themselves were arrested and detained by authorities, and some even lost their jobs. The decission came when the kingdom's Foreign Ministry announced the decission on their official Twitter account that read,"Saudi Arabia allows women to drive".

The Associated Press is making available its story by correspondent Donna Fenn Heintzen of the November 6, 1990 protest as part of its coverage of King Salman's royal decree.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, despite ambitious government reforms aimed at boosting female employment.

The decree said that women would be allowed to drive "in accordance with the Islamic laws". "We can not stay immobile like sitting ducks".

That same year, around 150 clerics and religious scholars held a rare protest outside the Saudi king's palace against efforts by women seeking the right to drive.

"Some of them don't believe that it's their own rights". One woman turned on her headlights and windshield wipers while trying to roll down her electronic window to speak with a reporter.

She was forced to sign a pledge that she would not drive again before she was released. Many women's rights activists have been jailed for flouting the ban.

The secretary-general of the United Nations has welcomed Saudi Arabia's move allowing women to drive in the Kingdom beginning next summer. Having a chauffeur, especially a foreigner, was a form of mingling with unusual men, they point out.

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Another prominent voice was billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed, who in the past had spoken out in support of allowing women to drive.

Husbands, brothers, and a crowd of Filipino drivers stood watching with open admiration.

Some joined the convoy and pulled over to the side of the road when the women were finally stopped by the police, after they had driven for about 30 minutes.

Women and men also flooded a main street in the capital, bopping their heads to pop music as green lights flickered overhead in the colour of the flag. Speaking to The Associated Press from Riyadh, she said women were "happy" but also that the change was "the first step in a lot of rights we are waiting for". "This is just the first little bit of freedom".

She later posted a picture of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with the caption "And they blame me for loving you".

It's worth noting that Saudi women face a wide array of laws under the male guardianship system that controls many aspects of their lives.

"It is a testimony to the bravery of women activists who have been campaigning for years that..."

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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