Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Saudi woman defies driving ban to support activist

Tuesday, Dec 02, 2014 - printed in Gulf News - link to the story here. Manama: A Saudi woman has posted a video clip of her driving a car in the capital Riyadh on Monday evening in support of an activist who was questioned for insisting on driving into the kingdom in defiance of a ban. “I am driving my car for the second time in support of Loujain Hathloul and her friend Maysaa Al Amoudi,” the woman who introduced herself as Umm Abdul Mohsen, said.
“They are detained over a ridiculous accusation and they cannot enter their country using their own cars. There is no law that bans them from entering their country,” she said in the short clip posted on social networks.

Loujain was questioned by the Saudi police at the border point with the UAE after she insisted on driving into the kingdom.The activist argued that she had a valid UAE driving licence that allowed her to drive in any of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The GCC, formed in 1981, comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.No legal text in Saudi Arabia bans women from driving, and women drivers are apprehended for driving without valid licences.
Loujain sought to use her UAE licence to bypass the ban and turned her attempt to drive through the borders and into Saudi Arabia into an international media affair by tweeting regularly about its progress and about how she was blocked at the entry point.
“They cannot ban me from entering even if they think that I am breaking the law because I am a Saudi citizen,” she tweeted. “Besides, my licence is valid in all GCC countries in accordance with the agreement.”
Maysaa, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, presenter and producer, joined her at the border and provided her with supplies to help her through the wait.
“I am now at the crossing point and the border customs want my ID. They refuse to let me in, but I came here to support Loujain and I did not insist on entering [Saudi Arabia],” she tweeted.
Umm Abdul Mohsen’s video clip and Loujain’s much publicised attempt have expectedly divided Saudi social media users over the merit of women allowed to drive in the kingdom.
The online debate has been going on for years with both camps holding on to their views and using a wide spectrum of religious, social and economic arguments to consolidate their attitudes.
By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
Gulf News 2014. All rights reserved.

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