Lifestyle & Belief

Saudi Arabia's king pardons woman driver sentenced to lashing. Source: Twitter

Saudi Arabia's king pardoned a woman sentenced to 10 lashes for breaking a ban on female drivers in the kingdom, Amira al-Taweel, the wife of the monarch's nephew, wrote on Twitter Thursday. 

Earlier Thursday, Human rights group Amnesty International decried promises by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to allow greater political participation for Saudi women, following the court sentence of 10 lashes for the woman, identified by Ria Novosti as "Shaima Jastaina." 

(GlobalNews reports: Human rights group decries flogging sentence for Saudi woman driver)

"Flogging is a cruel punishment in all circumstances, but it beggars belief that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have imposed lashes on a woman apparently for merely driving a car," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, told CNN.

"Belatedly allowing women to vote in council elections is all well and good, but if they are still going to face being flogged for trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement, then the King's much-trumpeted 'reforms' actually amount to very little," Luther said.

(More from GlobalPost: Saudi women demand driving rights)

The pardon of Jastaina, sentenced Monday after King Abdullah vowed to protect women's rights and announced that women would get the vote from 2015, had yet to be confirmed by the Saudi authorities late Thursday.

Jastaina, believed to be in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission in Jeddah in July, according to the Guardian.

Her case was the first in which a legal punishment was handed down for a violation of the ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Taweel tweeted: "Thank God, the lashing of [Shaima] is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved king. I am sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am."

According to the Guardian, she later added that she and her husband had spoken to Shaima, who told them: "The king's orders washed the fears I lived with after this unjust sentence."