Despite gaining the right to vote in a recent speech delivered by King Abdullah, Saudi women are facing a setback in their struggle to achieve driving rights. The same day as the king’s announcement, the Authority of Prosecutors Committee brought Najla al-Hariri to the police department to question her about her involvement in a recent campaign to secure Saudi women’s driving rights. She was required to sign a pledge agreeing to not to drive again before being released. Al-Hariri was similarly detained by the police for driving in August; however, she was not forced to sign the pledge at that point.
Najla al-Hariri will also face trial, although she did not break the law since Saudi Arabia does not have written laws barring women from driving. Nevertheless, Saudi women have to rely on male relatives or paid drivers to get around by car due to a religious edict issued by Muslim clerics.
On June 17, some 40 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban. Female activists have continued to make forays onto the roads since then, often posting videos of themselves driving on social networks.
Ms. Magazine Blog 9/27/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/26/11, 6/29/11