Women Drivers Protest Saudi Driving Ban By Circling Embassy In DC

June 15, 2011

From noon to 4 pm today, a caravan of cars is circling around and around the Saudi embassy in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

And they're all driven by women.

The unusual protest highlights the kingdom's absolute ban on women drivers.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world with such a ban, which is enforced not by law but by religious police who also monitor women's clothing, hairstyles, public companions, and other types of behavior.

The demonstration was organized by the Institute for Gulf Affairs, which considers the ban to be gender apartheid.

Saudi Prince speaks out against ban on female drivers

Saudi Prince speaks out against ban on female drivers

Enlarge Photo

It is meant to promote a protest on Friday, June 17--which would be late Thursday in the United States--in which women plan to drive inside the kingdom in defiance of the law. 

That event was promoted onsocial media by Manal Al-Sherif, a Saudi woman who was arrested, twice, and released, once.

As of now, she is still detained. (You can follow the latest news on the detention of Manal Al-Sherif via Twitter, using the hashtag #FreeManal.)

Now, Facebook is being used by a group called "the Iqai Campaign" which suggests that women be whipped if they drive. 

Just last week, six more women were arrested on charges of driving--despite a speech against the ban earlier this year by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

[Washington Post]

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