DUBAI: A group of Saudi activists has begun another campaign for the lifting of a ban on women driving, urging women to get behind the wheel on Oct. 26 in defiance according to its website.
The “October 26 driving campaign” says it has gathered 8,700 signatures for a petition it published on Sept. 21.
“If the state refuses to lift this (driving) ban on women, we call on it to offer citizens its justifications for the ban,” reads the petition posted on the website. “The state is not a father or a mother and the citizens are not children.”
While no laws explicitly ban Saudi women from driving, citizens must use locally issued licenses. These are not issued to women, making it in effect illegal for them to drive.
At least two similar campaigns in the past two years have failed to bring change, with the authorities detaining several women and making them sign pledges not to drive again.
Nevertheless, King Abdullah has pushed some modest reforms to advance women’s rights during the same period.
The “October 26 driving campaign” urges people to put its logo on their cars on that day. It also urges women to learn to drive and asks family members to support women’s right to drive.
On Thursday, Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, the head of the morality police, told Reuters there was no text in the documents making up sharia’a law which bars women from driving.
But he said he did not set Saudi policy and denied a report in local media that he had recently instructed the morality police not to pursue or stop women drivers.