This report in from Reuters on October 23, 2014. A link to the story is here, text below.
(Reuters) - Saudi
Arabia's Interior Ministry on Thursday issued a warning to women not to
get behind the wheel in defiance of the kingdom's men-only road rules
after a renewed social media campaign to challenge the law by driving in
The announcement comes
ahead of the anniversary on Oct. 26 of a demonstration last year in
which dozens of Saudi women said they had taken to the road in protest
at the ban on female drivers, leading to some arrests.
recent weeks, campaigners have been pushing on social media for women
to drive themselves and post pictures or films online, as they did in
the run-up to last year's protest.
Interior Ministry emphasizes it will firmly apply the laws against
anyone who participates (in a protest by female drivers)," the ministry
said a statement carried by state media.
such attempt by women to drive in public in breach of the law was "an
opportunity for predators to undermine social cohesion", the ministry
Since the 2011 Arab
uprisings and subsequent regional turmoil, Riyadh has taken a zero
tolerance approach to all attempts at protest or dissent in the kingdom,
including by liberal rights activists, Islamists and members of the
Shi'ite Muslim minority.
conservative Islamic kingdom is the only country in the world to stop
women driving, although a growing number of public figures in the
country have publicly pushed for the rule to be overturned.
leading members of the country's powerful Sunni Muslim clergy have
argued against women being allowed to drive, which they say could lead
to them mingling with unrelated men, thereby breaching strict gender
Saudi Arabia, a top Arab ally of the United States, women are legally
subject to a male guardian, who must give approval to basic decisions
they make in fields including education, employment, marriage, travel
plans and even medical treatment.
King Abdullah, who has ruled since 2005, the position of women has
gradually improved in the face of opposition from conservatives.
has pushed for women to have more opportunities in education and
employment, and has appointed some to the Shoura Council which advises
the government on policy.
(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)