Saudi authorities, apparently responding to orders by King Abdullah, set free a prominent female activist who was arrested last week after triggering controversy when she was caught driving in public, newspapers said on Wednesday.
Manal Al Sharif, a security data adviser at the state-owned Saudi Aramco, was released from the women’s prison in the eastern town of Dammam on Tuesday after spending nearly 10 days in jail for defying a long-standing ban on driving cars by women in the conservative Moslem Gulf Kingdom.
A day after her release, her father said he would take her to hospital to ensure she is not suffering from any physical or psychological trauma because of her imprisonment and absence from her little son.
“I would like to thank our leaders, on top of whom is the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques (King Abdullah) for their instructions to release me,” she said in comments carried by the London-based Saudi daily Alhayat.
“As for driving by women in Saudi Arabia, I will now leave this issue to our leaders who are more aware and better acquainted of its advantages and disadvantages…on this occasion, I would like to say that I will always be the Moslem Saudi woman who is keen to serve her country and satisfy her Lord.”
Police arrested Manal while she was driving her car through the streets of Dammam in defiance of the ban on female driving in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s oil basin.
Manal was a leading activist in Saudi female campaign pressing for ending the ban before she decided to quit while in prison.
“I will take my daughter to an advanced medical centre for tests to ensure she is not suffering from any physical or psychological traumas as a result of her imprisonment,” Manal’s father, Masoud, told Okaz newspaper.
Manal repents but more Saudi women defy ban