Saudi arrests women’s advocates ahead of driving lift ban
International rights groups have condemned the arrests this week of at least seven prominent Saudi Arabian women’s rights activists who previously campaigned for the right to drive, which the conservative kingdom is set to grant from next month.
Authorities said in an overnight statement that they were still identifying others allegedly involved in activities that encroach on religious and national constants. The government statement said seven people had been arrested for suspicious contacts with foreign entities and offering financial support to enemies overseas, without elaborating.
Image: Driving ban on women to be lifted in Saudi Arabia
With a front page reading “Your betrayals have failed”, Al-Jazirah newspaper named two of those arrested as activists Loujain al-Hathloul and Aziza al-Yousef. Of the seven claimed, these are the five of those that have been mentioned: Hathloul, Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Mohammed al-Rabiya and lawyer Ibrahim al-Madmyegh. Others protest stating that this round of arrests was strictly targeting Saudi feminism. The detainees had not only fought for the lifting of the driving ban, but also against the kingdom’s enduring guardianship laws. A state security spokesman did not identify the detainees, but online news site Sabq, seen as close to the authorities, linked them to the arrests of the women’s rights activists.
Women will be allowed to drive starting on June 24. Also, Saudi women now no longer need male permission to start a business. Dozens of clerics seen by the government as dabbling in politics were detained separately last September, a move that appears to have paved the way for lifting the driving ban, which is part of a reform programme aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil and opening up Saudis’ cloistered lifestyles.
Many Saudi activists say social change will only be cosmetic without dismantling the kingdom’s guardianship system. Amnesty International condemned the commentary of the arrests as a chilling smear campaign and an extremely worrying development for women human rights defenders in the country.The detainees had not only fought for the lifting of the driving ban, but also against the kingdom’s enduring guardianship laws.
The stringent laws and the rule in Saudi Arabia that were very strict and due to various religious reasons have now been coming to an ease and some of them to an end. However, it is not sure that these changes in the laws can be reversed at any given time, but the country is much more open to hearing and changing the laws for the good and benefit of the citizens and residents who reside over there. The arrests have been made majorly due to protests in the name of the change in law and not due to the change in law. Protests and strikes in Saudi Arabia is highly unacceptable and not tolerable at all. Those that do not follow the rules and the laws within the nation will be subjected to circumstances and punishment under the oath of law.