On October 26 dozens of Saudi women got behind the wheel in defiance of the country’s traditions. Though no specific law bans women from driving, the rules are enforced by Saudi Arabia's powerful Islamic establishment.
Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says even though the issue seems to be gaining traction, she’s heard critics argue it’s symbolic of larger issues Saudi women face.
“They cannot own property, they cannot have a bank account,” Cruise says. “So this is one very visible way that they can show their dislike of the system, and posting on YouTube is also significant - using that social media which we know has been so effective in that part of the world in creating change in the last couple of years.”
The October 25 edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quotes Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Turki al-Faisal as saying cyber-laws could apply to anyone supporting the women driving campaign. Conviction can bring up to five-year prison sentences.
“There's a famous comedian that now has another YouTube video off the old Bob Marley song. It's called "No Woman, No Drive," which is kind of a satire,” Cruise says. “So they are getting a little bit of momentum and support - certainly externally from women's groups and other human rights groups around the world, and then also internally from both women and men."
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