Several Saudi women risked arrest by taking part in a protest against a ban on females driving on October 26. They got behind the wheel and posted videos online of themselves doing so.
Others who had planned to take part, however, stayed home after the government warned of prosecutions and punishments. Several activists said they received threatening phone calls telling them not to participate.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. The ban is informal, rather than enshrined in law.
Activist and writer Tamador Alyami said clarification was needed from the authorities: “They are giving us confusing messages. There’s nothing clear about it, no clear law, no clear punishment, so the message is not clear and that’s why we’re fighting for it.”
The campaign has sparked a wider debate in Saudi society over how women are treated. Social activist and comedian Hisham Fageeh recorded an ironic video, entitled ‘No Woman, No Drive’ and posted it on YouTube on the day of the protest.
Fageeh’s unique twist on Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ had been viewed more than 140,000 times within hours of being posted online.