At least five women were arrested in Jeddah, on the country’s western coast, for violating Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers, according to rights activist Eman al-Nafjan. The arrests come nearly two weeks after Saudi women began campaigning for the right to drive.

“This is the first big pushback from authorities it seems,” Nafjan told the Associated Press. “We aren’t sure what it means at this point and whether this is the start of a harder line by the government against the campaign.”

On June 17, some 40 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban, which is based on religious rulings by senior clerics. Currently, Saudi Arabia does not have written laws barring women from driving. Female activists have continued to make forays onto the roads since then, often posting videos of themselves driving on social networks.

Media Resources: Associated Press 6/29/11; AFP 6/29/11; San Francisco Chronicle 6/29/11

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