FB blocks anti-women driving Saudi campaign

A group of Saudi women who launched a counter-campaign on Facebook this week to press for maintaining a long-standing ban on female car driving in the Gulf Kingdom accused the social network of blocking their page.

A female activist in the campaign said the page had been partially blocked several times over the past few days before it completely disappeared from Facebook on Saturday, according to local newspapers.

“We all are surprised at Facebook’s decision to cancel our page for no reason…we have not committed any mistake or violated the network’s rules…we just expressed our opinion which is against allowing women to drive cars,” Anbakum newspaper quoted an unnamed activist as saying.

“Our campaign entitled ‘I don’t want to drive….I want my rights’, is intended to press for the development of a public transport system for women and to respond to that campaign which is demanding a removal of the ban on driving….we wonder who will benefit from abolishing these female voices which are only expressing their views and calling for a pioneer national project.”

Newspapers last week said nearly 1,000 Saudi women signed a letter on Facebook, to be presented later to King Abdullah, appealing for him not to lift the ban on female driving in the conservative Moslem country.

The letter branded women pressing for an end to the ban as “weird” and said their campaigns to lift the ban and defiant driving by some women are more serious than protests, the papers said.

Sharq Arabic language daily said the statement was in response to a campaign launched by women on Facebook to defy a ban on female driving.

The campaign has already drawn a backlash from men, who threatened to use their headgears to confront women driving cars.

“The 1,000 women said they intend to present the letter signed by them to the Monarch to express their objection to women driving cars..…they affirmed that the recent demands and flagrant defiant actions by some women represent only a minority of the country’s women and that millions of women are opposed to lifting the ban.”

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