Saudi women flood social media with driving videos, pictures

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Saudi women’s rights activists Thursday posted photographs and videos of themselves behind the wheel on social media websites, defying a de-facto ban on women driving in the kingdom.

The social media flurry came two days after three female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council requested that the issue be discussed in the forum.

According to Al Arabiya, the women who took part in Thursday’s campaign were welcomed by some onlookers.

One video posted on YouTube showed a Saudi mother capturing footage of her daughter “Azza” driving a car.

There is no specific law preventing women from driving in the kingdom, but they cannot apply for driving licenses and have previously been arrested on charges relating to public order or political protest after getting behind the wheel.

One female activist, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, said the publication of the video clips and photographs was the first part of a two-stage campaign geared towards changing attitudes in the country.

The second stage, she said, will see Saudi Arabia-based women with international driving licenses get behind the wheel on Oct. 26.

This most recent campaign has collected 15,000 signatures for a petition calling for women to be allowed to drive, reported Al Arabiya.

Some conservative supporters of the ban have said that allowing women to drive will encourage the sexes to mix freely and ultimately threaten public morality.

Opponents 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 on Thursday 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.”

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