Saudi Authorities Promise to Clamp Down on Women Driver Protest

Announcement follows reports in Arab media, social networks regarding a feminist protest in which dozens of women intend to break the ban on women driving.

Saudi authorities announced that they will oppose a protest scheduled to take place Saturday in which dozens of women plan to drive their or their family’s car to protest the ban on women driving on the country's roads.

A communiqué published by the Saudi Interior Ministry stated that police and security forces will deal forcefully with any march, demonstration or convoy in which women drive. The announcement says that this is an unauthorized attempt to create a public disturbance, to disrupt the country’s social fabric and to incite against its authorities.

The announcement followed reports in Arab media and on social networks regarding a feminist campaign being waged in Saudi Arabia, scheduled to peak on October 26, when dozens of women intend to break the ban on women driving. Social networks also included video clips posted by young and affluent women who had filmed themselves while driving.

Most of the women drivers had covered their faces so as not to be identified. However, one young student named Lajin al-Dhaloul, who is studying French literature in England, demonstratively broke the ban by arriving in the Saudi capital Riyadh two days ago, then filming herself while driving from the airport to her parents’ house. It was later reported that she had been arrested, but Interior Ministry officials denied this. They claimed that her father had been summoned to a police station, where he was required to sign a document committing him to abide by the country’s laws, including the ban on women driving.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that still forbids women from driving. Over the last few years several women have been detained and imprisoned for driving, but the authorities are not able to stop the ongoing protest.

The following clip is a parody of the ban, entitled "No Woman, No Drive."