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Saudi Women Protest Detainment of Prisoners

On Saturday, 40 women gathered at the Interior Ministry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to call for the release of prisoners who were being detained without a trial. The prisoners are being held as part of the Saudi government’s campaign to contain al Qaeda insurgents.

Mohammed al-Qahtani, an activist, told the New York Times, “The women demand to free people imprisoned in the campaign against terrorism. Many people have been held up for a long time without trial, or have nothing to do with al Qaeda.”

Gulf News reports that Saudi officials will speak to the women’s guardians and request that they “sign an undertaking to prevent the women from being involved in any similar activity in the future.” The legal guardianship system in Saudi Arabia requires that women, both minors and adults, be accompanied by a male guardian outside the home. If women wish to conduct themselves in public business, work, or to drive, they must obtain permission from or be accompanied by their male guardian, who may be her husband, father, brother, or even a minor son.

Sources:

Gulf News 2/7/11; New York Times 2/6/11; UPI.com 2/6/11; Human Rights Watch 1/10/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/20/11