Saudi Arabian women defy driving ban
Women aren't allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, but some, inspired by the Arab Spring, are defying the ban and driving openly.
This story was originally covered by PRI's The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.
There is no formal law that bans women from driving cars in Saudi Arabia, but a religious fatwa keeps most women off of the road. Saturday, however, one woman, Manal al Sharif, was detained for driving a car and posting a video of it on YouTube. The Associated Press reports that she was then re-arrested on Sunday.
Officials say that the ban is meant to protect women. "They're lying to themselves," according to Najla Hariri, a woman who drives openly in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Hariri went on a drive with BBC reporter Michael Buchanan to talk about the ban.
Hariri started driving about two years ago out of necessity. "My husband was outside, my older son was outside, I have no driver and everything in my life is stopped, waiting for them to come back," she told the BBC. "It's strange situation," she said. "Why? I have two cars in my garage, and I'm waiting for someone to drive me."
"I think, enough is enough."
She said the open protests are inspired in part by the Arab Spring. "Before in Saudia," she says, "you never heard about protesters. After what happened in the Middle East, We start to accept this world. We accept to see a group of people go outside and say what they want in a loud voice, and this have a slight impact to what happen now for women to drive."
Now she's starting to get public support. There's also a mass drive planned for June 17. "My daughters' friends are so proud of me, and my daughters also." She admits it's difficult, though. She told the BBC, "in this society, yes. I'm a little bit brave."
You can watch a report on this from Al Jazeera below: