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Fighting For The Right to Drive

A still of Manal al-Sharif, 32, teaching another woman to drive as a part of her cause to sanction women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

The government of Saudi Arabia have taken action to shut down a internet campaign pushing for women to have the right to drive for fear of sparking more protest. Officials have deactivated a Facbook page, titled "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," and a Twitter account that asked that all female supporters drive on June 17 . They have also arrested the Women 2 Drive campaign organizer, Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old computer IT expert in Riyadh, and her supportive brother for "violating public order." The two were arrested Sunday, May 22 after Sharif uploaded a video of her driving with her brother on the passenger side. Authorities said the two will be held for five days.
The campaign is protesting against a government ban that states that no woman in Saudi Arabia, foreign or citizen, are allowed to drive in cities. Associated Press reports that the fatwa or doctrine, which is not a written law in Saudi Arabia, is based off the Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam and Saudi clerics say the ban helps to protect women and keep them from vice and temptation.
Since women cannot drive they have to be driven by men, who either are hired drivers or relatives. Women must be driven to work, school, the market, and the doctor's office. Al-Sharif, who learned how to drive at the age of 30 in New Hampshire, argues that allowing women to drive would be cost-effective for the country and makes life a little easier and safer for women there. Sharif expressed recently to CNN that she once spent  half an hour looking for a cab in the middle of the night because she didn't have a male escort with her.
Sharif's arrest has angered many of her supporters who have started Facebook pages and Twitter petitions demanding that she be released.
Monday, May 23, three women were arrested for driving to the grocery store. They had no male relatives to drive them and therefore have been driving themselves.

Manal al-Sharif Driving by Wajeha al-Huwaider (2008)

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