Saudis Arrest 14 Women for Defying Driving Ban

Saudi women got behind the wheel Saturday in Women2Drive campaign to urge kingdom to legalize driving by women.

A Saudi woman drives a vehicle in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.
A Saudi woman drives a vehicle in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. AP

Saudi authorities arrested 14 women for driving in the conservative kingdom, al-Madina newspaper reported on Sunday.

The women were detained in the capital Riyadh, the western cities of Jeddah and Mecca as well as the Eastern Province, the report added.

Saudi women got behind the wheel on Saturday as part of the Women2Drive campaign. Activists have published more than a dozen videos on YouTube showing women driving in defiance of the decades-long "ban," which makes the oil-producing kingdom the world's only country where women are not allowed to drive.

On the campaign's Twitter account, organizers vowed to continue with their efforts.

"As we expected, women drove peacefully. ... The campaign will continue to normalize driving in our country, whose laws permit the exercise of this right," they said on Sunday.

No law prevents women from driving in Saudi Arabia, but driver's licenses are not issued to women there. Female violators in the past have been arrested and fined. Many Saudi women have driving licenses from other Gulf countries.

Previously women detained for driving said they were forced to sign a pledge they would not drive again. The al-Madina newspaper however did not say what punishment awaits the women.

This is the second such campaign since 2011.

In 1990, some 47 women took to the streets in 15 cars to defy the ban. They were detained and some lost their jobs.