Added by Erik West on June 14, 2012
On the first anniversary of the Women2Drive campaign launched in June 2011, hundreds of people on Wednesday petitioned Saudi King Abdullah to allow women to drive.
The 600 signatories of the petition asked the king of the only country in the world that forbids women to drive to “encourage women who have obtained driving licences from neighbouring countries to begin driving whenever necessary.” They also called on the monarch to “establish driving schools for women and issue licences.”
“We only want to enjoy the right to drive like all women over the world,” said the petition signed by Manal al-Sherif, the icon of an Internet campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy the driving ban.
Najla Hariri, a Saudi mother who was freed after she was briefly arrested for driving in the western city of Jeddah in August, said “the petition will be handed to the king on our campaign’s anniversary on Sunday.”
Sheima Jastaniah, who was pardoned by the king after being sentenced to 10 lashes for breaking the driving ban last September, has also signed the petition.
Hundreds of women have driven since the campaign was launched and many of them have been arrested and forced to sign a pledge stating they will never drive again, according to activists.
A group of defiant women got behind the wheel of their cars last June in response to calls for nationwide action to break the ban.
The campaign, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and punished after demonstrating in cars.
There is no law that specifically forbids women to drive, but the minister of interior formally banned women from driving following that protest.
Women who do not have the financial means hire drivers must depend on the goodwill of male relatives to get around.