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Saudi woman arrested for driving

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Saudi woman arrested for driving

Authorities were upset over campaign for women's right to drive, activists say

  • Areej Khan, an artist, created a sign objecting to the law banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia.
    aprilzosia/FlickrAreej Khan, an artist, created a sign objecting to the law banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi woman was arrested—again—for driving her car, an act banned in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Activists claim the authorities cracked down on Manal al-Sherif out of fear that her online campaign to encourage women to drive might gather steam, the Associated Press reports.

Al-Sherif started a Facebook page with a group of other activists to encourage women to defy the ban. The group, called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," drew support from 12,000 people and called for a mass drive on June 17. It was then removed from Facebook.

Similarly, a Twitter account the group set up also was deactivated.

Authorities arrested al-Sherif on Sunday after she posted a video of her driving in Khobar and have ordered her held for five days while her case is investigated, AP reports.

Saudi women can only travel with a male relative or by hiring a driver. Al-Sherif told CNN she grew frustrated by this system.

"I had to walk on the street for half an hour looking for a cab. I was harassed by every single car because it was late at night and I was walking alone," she said. "I kept calling my brother to pick me up, but his phone wasn't answering. I was crying in the street. A 32-year-old grown woman, a mother, crying like a kid because I couldn't find anyone to bring me home."

A growing group of women in Saudi Arabia is now pushing for reforms in the country, the Telegraph reports.

"They have been increasingly defiant of the religious police who monitor their daily movements and style of dress, and have begun online campaigns to demand everything from women shop assistants in lingerie stores to the right to vote," it states.

"The ban on driving has become a touchstone issue, as the most obviously contradictory aspect of Saudi Arabia's conservatism."

Al-Sherif said Saudi women must now be even more outspoken.

"We have a saying," she told CNN. "The rain starts with a single drop. This is a symbolic thing."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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cars, driving, islam, saudi arabia, women

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