When Manal al Sharif was arrested a couple of weeks ago, there was concern that the “Women2Drive” campaign would fizzle. In exchange for her freedom, al Sharif publicly made a pledge that she would no longer support her protest of Saudi Arabia’s driving ban against women.
Instead, women across Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel today and urged others to do the same. Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers is the only such ban in the world and the cause of high expense and daily hardship in the lives of women and families across the country.
In the face of the protests in which some women say they drove for nearly an hour, the authorities mostly held back. According to the AP, the government is caught between ual fears of further uprising in the wake of the Arab Spring, backlash from conservative clerics, and further criticism from the outside world.
Online, supporters, both men and women, have used the #Women2Drive hashtag to show their support, and there’s a video channel, Honk for Saudi Women, along with other viral videos, that are showing their support for the cause.
The New York Times Lede blog is saying that the numbers of women driving may be small. However, the government is trying to squash news coverage of the protest. An American photojournalist, Lynsey Addario, says she was stopped while driving with a women, but they were set free with just a ticket.
We support the brave effort by the ladies in Saudi Arabia and hope this absurd ban will soon be lifted. Honk honk!