Reports of Saudi female drivers detained; one woman shares her experience

BY Mori Rothman  October 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM EST


Madeha Al Ajroush, women’s rights activist, holding a toy car in a shopping mall in Riyadh. Courtesy: Madeha Al Ajroush

Women protesting a ban on driving in Saudi Arabia took to the streets on Oct. 26 — and some news outlets are reporting that more than a dozen female drivers were detained.

AFP reports that 16 women were stopped and fined, while Haaretz cites an Al Madina news report that 14 women were arrested.

Madeha Al Ajroush, featured in NewsHour’s report on the movement to gain driving rights for women, told us she went driving in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday and noticed several cars following her.

Al Ajroush stopped at a shopping mall to see if the cars would go away, but when they didn’t, she went into the mall and bought a toy car.

According to Al Ajroush, she walked over to one of the cars and presented the driver with the toy, telling him, “Today is October 26th, I wanted you to have this gift.”

Al Ajroush said the man grabbed the toy out of her hand — and when she got back into her vehicle, she was followed by one of the cars back to her home.

When Al Ajroush spoke to the NewsHour Saturday night from her home in Riyadh, she said the same car was still parked outside.