Saudi woman held for driving
Al Khobar, May 22, 2011
Saudi authorities arrested a female activist on Sunday who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the kingdom and posted a video on the Internet of her driving, activists said.
The YouTube video, posted on Thursday, has attracted more than 500,000 views and shows Manal Alsharif, who learned to drive in the United States, driving her car in Al Khobar in the Eastern Province.
"Police arrested her at 3 am this morning," said Maha Taher, another female activist who launched her own campaign for women driving four months ago to spread awareness of the issue.
An Eastern Province police spokesperson declined to comment and an interior ministry spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive and must have written approval from a designated guardian -- a father, husband, brother or son -- to leave the country, work or travel abroad.
The campaign Alsharif launched is aimed at teaching women to drive and encouraging them to start driving from June 17, using foreign-issued licences.
While there is no written law that specifically bans women from driving, Saudi law requires citizens use a locally issued licence while in the country. Such licences are not issued to women, making it effectively illegal for them to drive. -Reuters