Saudi authorities issue warning ahead of women driving campaign

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Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has warned against “disturbing social peace” ahead of a planned campaign by women to challenge a de facto ban on them driving.

“Regulations in Saudi Arabia prohibit any action that disturbs social peace and opens the door for sedition and responds to the illusions of prejudiced intruders with sick dreams,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

“The Interior Ministry confirms to all that the concerned authorities will enforce the law against all the violators with firmness and force,” the statement added.

The warning also appeared directed at those calling on the social media to stop women if seen driving in the streets.

The “October 26 Driving” campaign has asked Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel that day, while urging other women to learn to drive, according to Reuters.

The warning comes after a number of clerics and religious scholars protested in Jeddah, saying the authorities were doing nothing to stop women defying the ban, Associated Press reported.

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 Reuters and AP)

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