Dubai/Riyadh: The campaign against Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving has shifted tactics to increasingly challenge the law ahead of a new nationwide day of defiance on December 28.
Women activists are now driving weekly and documenting their confrontations with law enforcement on social media to increase pressure on the conservative country and keep the issue in the public eye.
The campaigners are also trying to discern subtle but mixed signals from the secretive government for encouragement that change may be afoot.
They said authorities have used different tactics with different drivers, creating some uncertainty over where the government stands.
“I kind of feel that the government wants us to drive, but at the same time it doesn’t want to make it official yet because it doesn’t want to face the religious establishment,” said Tamador Alyami.
She spoke by phone after riding in the passenger seat with another woman driving in the coastal city of Jeddah on December 12. Alyami said she planned to drive on December 28 and does not think the government will take drastic measures to stop her.
“I think they got the message,” she said.
In a video of her December 12 drive posted on YouTube, the two women chatted nervously, scanning for police cars that soon converged upon them. The sound of Talal Maddah, a late Saudi singer, came from the car stereo: “My beloved country, you are the land of pride and a beacon of shining light.” Seven police patrols surrounded the car, stopped it, then towed it away. Authorities had the women sign a pledge not to drive again and released them. see more