Saudi women asked to drive cars on Oct 26

New campaign to press for lifting ban on female driving

A Saudi female activist has urged women in the conservative Gulf Kingdom to defy social barriers and drive cars on October 26 to push the country’s authorities to lift an age-long ban on female driving, newspapers reported on Monday.

Lujein Al Hadoul, a female activist who is on a government scholarship abroad, went online on her social network page to appeal for all Saudi women to respond to her call and described men who are opposed to women driving cars as ‘oppressors’.

“This is a new campaign to press for our right to drive cars. I call on all Saudi women to participate in previous campaigns to join us and drive cars on October 26,” she said in a brief YouTube film published in the Saudi daily Arar News.

“That day is our new chance to drive cars. As for those men who try to stop women from driving, they are oppressors because there is no religion or law banning this.”

Saudi women defied the ban in 2011 and campaigned for a decision to allow women to drive. Many of them took to the street and drove cars, triggering anger among Saudi male hardliners who are strongly opposed to female driving.

Saudi female activist Manal Al Sharif, one of the campaign leaders in 2011, hit headlines after she was briefly jailed when she was caught driving.

In recent comments, Al Sharif said Saudi women must push ahead with their “struggle” to achieve all their rights not only driving cars.

“The question should not be whether women will be allowed because the Saudi government will never give away rights just like that,” she said.

“The question should be: will women take the right to drive... my answer is yes, that right and bigger.. if they understand what led to losing their rights and stopped accepting their rights to being used by the system to please certain group of people in Saudi Arabia and here I mean religious establishment.

“It's up to women not them. Women don't realise that yet. Once they do, they will win the struggle and set their own rules that everyone shall respect.”

Saudi officials say it is up to Kingdom Abdullah to issue a decision ending the ban, which they attribute to social barriers in the country of 29 million people.

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