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Saudi reiterates warning against women trying to defy driving ban

There is no specific law preventing Saudi women from driving in their country, but they cannot apply for driving licenses. (Reuters)

The Saudi interior ministry repeated on Thursday its warning against activists attempting to defy a de facto ban on women driving.

Interior Ministry Spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told Al Arabiya that “women driving inside the kingdom is completely banned.”

The ministry on Wednesday warned against “disturbing social peace” ahead of the “October 26 driving” campaign, which urged Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel that day.

While the ministry said it will “enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force,” activists explained the warning differently.

Activists on social media said the ministry’s statement warned women driving as group and not on an individual basis.

But General Turki explained that if any woman, who is not part of the campaign but drives her vehicle on Oct. 26, she will be dealt with according to the law.

He also emphasized that “all gatherings are prohibited.”

According to the Associated Press, the warnings by the ministry come after a number of clerics and religious scholars protested in Jeddah, saying the authorities were doing nothing to stop women defying the ban.

There is no specific law preventing women from driving in the kingdom, but they cannot apply for driving licenses.

Supporters of women driving say the ban is an extra cost for families who have to employ chauffeurs and add that it makes it difficult for women to perform basic daily tasks.

The Saudi Shura Council this month rejected a move by three female members to put the ban on women driving up for discussion.

The Council, which counts 30 women among its 150 members, said the issue was “irrelevant” to the discussions and “not within the transport ministry’s remit.”

(With agencies)

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Last Update: Thursday, 24 October 2013 KSA 19:46 - GMT 16:46
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